Game 6 of the 2011 World Series is underrated one of the best baseball games of all time. The Texas Rangers entered the potential clincher with a 3-2 series lead over the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. The lead changed three times during the first 3 and a half innings. In total five errors (all costly) were committed. But the real drama began in the bottom of the ninth, with the Cardinals down by two.
Here were the Rangers. 3 outs from their first championship. Two outs and two baserunners later, Texas was one strike away. Unfortunately that's when NLCS MVP David Freese lined a two-run triple off the right field wall. Game tied.
It moved to the 10th, where Josh Hamilton crushed a two-run shot to give Texas another led, this time up 9-7. St. Louis wouldn't quit though, coming back yet again when Lance Berkman dumped a single into shallow center to tie the game at 9.
We eventually made it to the bottom of the 11th, where Freese put Rangers fans out of their misery for good:
The Cardinals went on to win Game 7, which makes Game 6 one of the worst losses ever. Making matters worse was that Texas also lost the 2010 Fall Classic. The Rangers wasted another good team in 2012 when they collapsed over the final weekend of the regular season. Despite winning division titles in 2015 and 2016 the franchise still hasn't fully recovered from that Game 6 loss. It may be a while until Texas ever gets that close again.
What happened last year?
Texas was the definition of mediocre last year. The Rangers finished 78-84, good for fourth place in the AL West and 23 games behind the World Champion Astros. After back to back ALDS losses the roster got old, so the team became sellers at the trade deadline. Trading away Yu Darvish was a clear sign from the front office that the team wasn't built to compete anymore.
Has anything changed?
Texas is in a transition phase right now. They aren't quite good enough to make the playoffs, but they aren't bad enough to tank either. Their division rivals, the Astros, just won the championship and somehow got even better by trading for Gerrit Cole.
The "big" off-season addition for the Rangers was giving Timothy Leroy Lincecum a one year, $1 million deal. The plan is for Lincecum to pitch out of the bullpen in Texas. Baseball fans then got really excited when Jeff Passan hinted the closer role could be an option for Timmy. Lincecum in the bullpen? Makes sense. This way he can go max effort for two innings or less at a time. But closer? That's a role he will have to build up to.
It's also been quite some time since Lincecum was good. His second of back-to-back Cy Young awards came 10 years ago in 2009. The last time he had an ERA below 4.13 was 2011. He didn't pitch at all in 2017, and in 2016 he put up a 9.16 ERA with the Angels. However, it seems like the time away from the game last year did him some good. Lincecum is reportedly throwing harder and he did have success out of the bullpen in the 2012 playoffs. Even though he faces tough odds you better believe all of baseball is rooting HARD for a Tim Lincecum comeback.
Why should fans be excited?
Even though the Rangers are a mediocre overall team, they're still one of the most enjoyable out of market viewing experiences on MLB.tv. Their offense is exciting as hell featuring all or nothing sluggers such as Joey Gallo, Nomar Mazara, and Rougned Odor.
Additionally, the Rangers have another "plus bat" ready to start contributing regularly. Outfielder Willie Calhoun was the centerpiece of the Darvish trade and Baseball America just ranked him as the 36th best prospect in all of baseball. Calhoun is such a fun and unique player. He's small, doesn't wear batting gloves, and has massive power. The 23-year-old is off to a hot start this spring and will fit right into the high powered Rangers offense.
Backyard Baseball 2018 representative:
Future HOFer Adrian Beltre! By this point in his career anyone with a brain knows that the soon to be 39-year-old is ticketed for Cooperstown. Dude already has 3,000 hits and is closing in on 500 homers. What more do you want? Oh wait he's also one of the best defensive third baseman of all time?!! When it's all said and done Beltre is going to go down as one of the 10 best to ever play the hot corner. I'd love to see what he looks like as a Backyard kid.
Adrian Beltre BB18 stats: