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09/29/09 1:41 AM ET
Rangers' West chase ends with thud
Texas still clinging to AL Wild Card hopes after rout
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- The Rangers' dream of an American League West title came to an official, frustrating and overall disappointing end on a cool evening in Southern California. This night seemed to be inevitable as the Rangers went through September and could never put any kind of streak together. But they were still seething in their clubhouse after having to watch the Angels clinch the division with an 11-0 victory on Monday night. "I'm mad," third baseman Michael Young said. "I don't buy moral victories or look at the so-called positives. I'm not going to get caught up in looking at the future or anything like that. I play to win right now. The Angels had a great year, they overcame a lot of adversity and did a great job. "From our end, it's not a good feeling." The Rangers need to sweep this series to have any hopes of a miracle. The Rangers took it all the way to the final week, made a valiant effort but came up just short in the end. They were left to watch as the Angels celebrated their fifth AL West title in the past six years. The Rangers have now gone 10 seasons since their last division title in 1999. "This is something everybody in this clubhouse should go home and think about every day in the winter," outfielder Marlon Byrd said. "They need to come back in Spring Training with a fire in their bellies ready to win the division next year. We were there. We had a chance to win." The Rangers are not yet eliminated from the playoff race. They are mathematically still alive in the Wild Card race. But one more loss for them or one more win by the Red Sox will end that bid as well. The Rangers will still finish with just their second winning record in 10 years but that is of absolute no consolation. "This is the big leagues," second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "You either go to the playoffs or you don't. We're not going to the playoffs, that's all there is to that. We thought we were that team this year. But we have to work on this winter." The Rangers were in first place as late as July 10, just two days before the All-Star break. They just couldn't keep up with the Angels, who overcame a slow start to go 63-35 beginning on June 12. The Rangers had a 4 1/2-game lead on June 12, matching their largest of the season, but are 51-46 since that date. They have also lost 11 of their past 17 since a three-game sweep of the Indians on Sept. 8-9 in Cleveland. "It just seemed that September came and we were ready to go," Byrd said. "I don't know what it was ... if the Red Sox or the Angels were better. We just didn't get it done. It's something that should bug everybody this whole winter because we had a chance to make the playoffs." The Rangers have been relying on their young players all season and Tommy Hunter was a big part of that. But he suffered through his worst outing of the season on Monday night, allowing seven runs in just 2 1/3 innings. The Rangers trailed, 3-0, after one inning. It's the first time Hunter has failed to pitch at least five innings in any of his 18 starts this year. He's allowed 14 runs in eight innings over his past two starts, he is 3-2 with a 6.55 ERA in September and 9-5 with a 4.10 ERA on the season. "He just didn't have his good stuff," Rangers manager Ron Washington. Young returned to the lineup for the Rangers and went 2-for-3, including a double his first time up against Angels starter Ervin Santana. But he left the game after six innings with the Rangers down 11 runs. The Rangers ended up with just seven hits and were shut out for the 12th time this season. "You want to go out with a better effort but they came out on fire tonight," Byrd said. When it was over, Washington tried to console his team with a few words in the clubhouse. "I just told them to keep their heads up," Washington said. "We've still got some games to play. We want to win as many games as we can, I don't want to fall down now. We're disappointed that we didn't accomplish what we wanted to accomplish, but I'm very proud of the guys in the clubhouse. "They're disappointed but they played their hearts out. The best team won it."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.