Texas Rangers must regroup after shocking loss


Texas Rangers closer Neftali Feliz leaves the mound after blowing a World-Series clinching save in the ninth inning. (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

The Texas Rangers were one out away, and couldn’t hold. Then the Texas Rangers were one out away, and again couldn’t hold on. Then the Texas Rangers were beaten on a walk-off home run by third baseman David Freese in the bottom of the 11th.

It wasn’t supposed to end this way, but it did.

One of the most exciting games in World Series history took place on Thursday night and set up a deciding seventh game in St. Louis, Missouri.

From the first inning to the 11th inning, the Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals battled back and forth, neither team giving an inch. And even when they did, one or the other was able to take advantage of opportunities given to them to turn the game around.

In the Dallas/Fort Worth area, fans are shell-shocked. They don’t know how to describe what happened because they were so ready to celebrate. In fact, you might say this town was ready to explode.

No matter where you were around the metroplex, whether at home or at a local sports bar, you were standing and cheering, ready to celebrate a World Series championship with the fans around you.

There were two outs in the inning and two strikes on David Freese. Every Rangers fan was on their feet, and they were ready to see the third out or the third strike, whichever came first.

And then the unthinkable happened. Freese lined a 1-2 pitch into right field that was missed by right fielder Nelson Cruz, and just like that, the game was tied.

An inning later, the Rangers had a runner on and one of their most dangerous hitters at the plate: Josh Hamilton. He was without a home run the entire postseason, so how fitting that he got into a fastball and drove it into the right-center-field seats, sucking the air right out of Busch Stadium.

It was at that exact moment Rangers fans began to celebrate one more time. This time, the series would be over, and the Texas Rangers would be able to celebrate their very first World Series championship.

Or so they thought.

After closer Neftali Feliz had blown the save in the ninth inning, it was up to 41-year-old reliever Darren Oliver to try and close it out in the tenth inning.

There were two on and two outs for Lance Berkman and, once again, two strikes. Fans in the metroplex were standing; they wanted the third out, and they could feel it.

And then they felt it — again.

Berkman’s single to center brought in the game-tying run, and, once again, the air in every single establishment around Dallas and Fort Worth had been sucked out.

Twice the fans wanted to celebrate. Twice they were ready to celebrate. Twice they were shut down.

Walking out of the place my wife and I were in last night fans were shocked. They were in stunned disbelief. They weren’t sure they had seen what had just transpired, there was no way this Rangers team blew the lead, and the World Series, two different times in consecutive innings.

This bullpen was too good to do that, weren’t they?

But the way this series has gone, with the exception of game three’s 16-7 blowout in Arlington this series has been a nail-biter. It’s been filled with drama, big moments, lead changes, big plays, big home runs and unbelievable turn of events.

Could game seven prove to be any different than what we’ve seen in five of the six so far? Could the drama be any more tense than it was on Thursday night?

One thing is for sure, the Texas Rangers need to forget about their loss and focus on what needs to happen on Friday night. They have one more chance to bring the championship home to Arlington. They have one more chance to define how the 2011 Texas Rangers will be remembered.

Will they go out champions or will they go quietly into the night?

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