10/13/10 1:00 AM ET
Rangers fans beginning to believe
By Todd Wills / Special to MLB.com
He was not comfortable until the final out, even with Cliff Lee on the mound, and even after Ian Kinsler gave the Rangers a 5-1 lead in the top of the ninth inning.
That may not be the case much longer after the second-youngest team in baseball finished off the franchise's first postseason series win since moving to Texas in 1972, becoming the final current Major League team to win a playoff series.
The Rangers won the American League Division Series, 3-2, bouncing back after losing two games in Arlington, including a Game 3 in which they were five outs from a series win. The Rangers will open the AL Championship Series on Friday in Arlington against the Yankees. C.J. Wilson is expected to be the Rangers' Game 1 starter against CC Sabathia.
At the Stadium Club in Addison, a Dallas suburb, on Tuesday night, fans were decked out in Rangers jerseys and T-shirts with a claw on them, one of the Rangers' rallying cries this season. The fans were into every pitch, acting more like Dallas Cowboys fans, chanting "Let's go Rangers" throughout the game. They showed their faith in Lee the entire game, cheering as he took the mound each inning.
Gabriel Ibarra, a lifelong Texan and Rangers fan at 39 years old, had a red claw T-shirt on and had his computer tracking Facebook. Even Ibarra, who lives in Addison, was surprised the Rangers came through with a series-clinching victory.
"It's unbelievable," Ibarra said. "It's shocking, really. I'm still in disbelief."
Rangers' faithful did have faith in Lee, who delivered a complete game. Lee, acquired in a midseason trade with Seattle, is thought to be the savior by many Rangers fans.
"It was about 50-50 tonight, and most of that was because of Cliff Lee," said Jose Pena of Dallas, who watched the game at Champps restaurant in Addison. "Being from Dallas, there has been so much heartbreak. I was nervous [because] of the past. The Mavericks blowing it in the playoffs, the Cowboys finally making it and Tony Romo's fumble in Seattle ...
"But you have to feel good with Cliff Lee on the mound. He's why we won."
Crystal Henderson of Garland, in her white Rangers jersey and loving every minute of Kinsler's heroics, picked the Rangers to knock off the Yankees.
"This is our year," Henderson said.
Todd Wills is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.