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Saturday morning Rangers stuff

Your Texas Rangers are the 2011 A.L. West Champions.  Holla!

Jeff Wilson's game story is less about the game and more about the Rangers celebrating winning the division for the second year in a row.

T.R. Sullivan's game story leads off with a quote from Elvis Andrus, who says that the Rangers are playing their best baseball right now.  Sullivan notes that the team is 14-6 in September, which makes it hard to argue with Andrus.

Anthony Andro writes about the Rangers' creative celebrations, which last night included Andrus doing a home run trot when the big board showed Oakland's David DeJesus homering off of Jered Weaver.

Richard Durrett has his post-game reactions at the ESPN Dallas blog.

Gil Lebreton has a column on the Rangers repeating.

Nolan Ryan says that this is a more balanced team than last year's club.

Jeff Caplan writes that Adrian Beltre, Mike Napoli and Michael Young, who created a triangle that led to Young demanding a trade this offseason, each had great years that contributed significantly to the Rangers' success.

The S-T's notes talk about the playoff outfield, which apparently will be Murphy/Hamilton/Cruz, and Alexi Ogando's role on the playoff staff, which will likely be in the bullpen.  

While I expect that lineup against RHPs in the playoffs, I'm curious as to whether we'll actually see that alignment against LHPs come October.  Murphy can't hit lefties -- he has a .208/.267/.226 line against lefties this season, and a career .252/.297/.348 line against LHPs.  Given that Craig Gentry has been okay with the bat this season, and the best defensive alignment in the outfield has Gentry in CF, I have to think he's going to start against any lefthanders the opposition roles out in the post-season.

Drew Davison writes that the Mark Lowe injury has complicated plans for the postseason roster, and that now Scott Feldman, Michael Kirkman, Darren O'Day, and Yoshinori Tateyama are vying for two spots in an 8 man bullpen.

Davison saying that the Rangers are going with an eight man post-season pen surprises me.  My assumption has been that they'd go with a five man bench, consisting of Craig Gentry, Endy Chavez, Andres Blanco, Yorvit Torrealba, and Matt Treanor.  Keeping the third catcher would allow the team to use both Torrealba and Napoli in the starting lineup against lefthanded pitchers.  A third catcher, in order to increase tactical flexibility, is going to be more valuable in a short series than an eight man bullpen, particularly when one of the eight men in the bullpen will be either Ogando or Colby Lewis, and two others will be from the Feldman/Kirkman/O'Day/Tateyama grab-bag. 

In fact, I expect we'll find out when the announcements come that they are going with a seven man bullpen, and only one of the Feldman/Kirkman/O'Day/Tateyama group sticks, likely either Kirkman or O'Day.

Andro writes that Ogando is ready to fill whatever role the Rangers want him to fill in the playoffs.

Sullivan's notes talk about the Lowe injury, Hamilton in CF, and Nelson Cruz at DH.

Davison writes that the Rangers have brought up Steve Buechele and Bobby Jones to help with the team over the final week of the season.