With a little bit of fantasy indulgence on a Saturday, here are the top ten future Rangers wins in 2010.
Evan Grant has an excellent article up at his Dallas Morning News blog, and you should read it. In it, he ranks the Rangers' top 10 victories this season. So far.
That inspired me. With the season still happy enough to fantasize about what could happen, and with what could happen having not yet happened, I figured I could take a moment and dream about how a top 10 list like this will look when the season is over.
Share your own if you disagree!
10) Rangers 3, Braves 2 (October 27)
The Rangers opened the first World Series in franchise history in dramatic fashion. Nelson Cruz's seventh inning two-run shot tied the game, and then he gave his team the lead with a solo shot in the 10th. The game set the tone for the series, ensuring at least a split in Atlanta and making sure the Rangers would start their first Fall Classic on the right footing.
9) Rangers 4, Rays 3 (October 15)
Similar to No. 10, the Rangers' back-and-forth opener of the ALCS made sure they got off to a good start. Every Rangers run scored was answered by the Rays until they ran out of opportunities to respond in the bottom of the 9th. This win may be fairly low on the list, but the ending the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington fans were treated to will always be remembered as one of the greatest moments in Texas baseball history, when Elvis Andrus hit the first home run of his season at the most dramatic of moments. Go crazy, folks. Go crazy.
8) Rangers 11, Rays 10 (October 18)
The wildest game of the 2010 playoffs had the Rays taking an early 6-0 lead thanks to some lucky breaks against C.J. Wilson. The Rangers battled back, however, setting up a wild finish before, suddenly, at 10-10, neither team could score anymore. After 20 runs in regulation, it took six more innings before Elvis Andrus tripled and scored on a Michael Young fly ball. Neftali Feliz's fourth save of the post season gave the Rangers a 2-1 series lead.
7) Rangers 4, Yankees 1 (October 7)
After a heart-breaking game one loss, Colby Lewis managed to keep the Yankees in check, helping to serve notice to all future opponents how dominant the Rangers pitching would be in October. The back of the order came up big, with Mitch Moreland having two doubles, two RBIs and a run scored, and David Murphy and Bengie Molina also coming through with big hits. This one stood out as a complete, team victory and gave the Rangers just their second playoff victory ever.
6) Rangers 7, Braves 6 (October 30)
Some may think this is too low, as this was perhaps the highest-leverage game in Rangers history. Staring at a five run deficit and allowing the Braves to take a lead in the series, Nelson Cruz's fourth inning grand slam tied a World Series and made it a game again. His 11th inning job tied a World Series record with his fifth home run (a record he'd break the next day), added another dramatic moment to the Texas post season, opened Halloween on a high note, and assured him of the MVP. It was, incredibly, the third walk-off home run of the Rangers' post season, and one of four walk-off victories. Matt Harrison and Neftali Feliz combined for three shutout innings, and Elvis Andrus had two hits, showing the Braves what might have been.
5) Rangers 3, Yankees 0 (October 10)
Facing elimination at home, young Derek Holland came up huge. There was a lot of controversy when the Rangers chose to start him in game four rather than Tommy Hunter or Cliff Lee on short rest, but he proved his incredible September run was no fluke. His eight shutout innings and nine strikeouts made for perhaps the best pitched game in the playoffs, considering the opponents and the situation. David Murphy and Mitch Moreland continued to come up big in the series, homering once a piece.
4) Rangers 12, Rays 0 (October 22)
It was a lot less exciting than some other games, but it was also a lot more cathartic. After blowing leads in back-to-back games, the Rangers made certain the Rays would not be celebrating quite yet. Facing elimination, Rangers fans needed a game like this, where they dominated early and never let up. Elvis Andrus and Cliff Lee battled each other all game for the rights to be the series MVP. If they had just held on in games four or five, Lee probably would have won, but we know what Feliz did a day later.
3) Rangers 4, Yankees 3 (October 12)
At the time this game ended, it was the most important game in the history of the franchise, not just the 2010 season. The fact that it's third on this list is a testament to how great this year was. Cliff Lee wasn't quite as effective as he had been in game one, but he still managed to keep the Rangers on top after Vladimir Guerrero's fourth inning home run made it 2-1. The ending was extremely fitting, with Neftali Feliz striking out ex-Rangers Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez with the tying run on third to end the series. For the first time, Rangers fans got to see their team celebrate a post season series victory. But they weren't done yet.
2) Rangers 6, Rays 5 (October 23)
One of the best ALCS's ever played was ended by the Elvis Andrus show and a moment that will likely forever stand as the greatest in Texas Rangers history. C.J. Wilson pitched better than his stat line would suggest, but the Rangers' only runs came in the fifth when Elvis Andrus tripled home David Murphy and scored on a Michael Young double. After Wilson allowed his sixth run -- seemingly all on seeing-eye and bloop singles -- the bullpen came in and dominated, allowing only a single base runner over a combined 5 1/3 innings to end the game. And I know you watched it, but let's recap that final inning just because I never want to go a day without remembering how awesome it was: Kinsler doubles, Moreland singles (FISTED!), Molina pops out, Andrus walks and Young strikes out. Then, with his team down two runs and just one out from elimination, Josh Hamilton came through on a 2-2 count with that swing you'll be seeing over and over for the rest of history. I'm surprised we haven't yet heard anything from the kid who caught that ball on Greene's Hill, but that ball should be in the Hall of Fame. Thank you, Josh Hamilton. Was there any better way to win such a dramatic series?
1) Rangers 1, Braves 0 (November 1)
The previous two wins on this list were more memorable, but this one was no doubt the biggest for obvious reasons: the Rangers clinching their first world championship. Once again, it took a dramatic game to pull it off, but at least this time they had two more shots afterwards, so it was a tad less nail-biting. Nelson Cruz continued to get on base, but no one would bring him home. Fortunately, Cliff Lee was working magic of himself to top Tim Hudson's. Once again, as it seemingly went so often in the post season, it came down to Elvis Andrus and Michael Young. Andrus's one-out double in the ninth set things up, and Michael Young ended it. There was no other way for the Rangers to finally win the World Series than by a walk-off opposite-field hit by their all-time hits leader. Andrus beat Heyward's throw, slid under McCann's tag, and the rest is history. I think it's sad that I didn't see a single claw or antler in that ensuing scrum of a celebration, but they were probably too happy to even think about it.
Let's do it again next year - hopefully with less drama.