McAdam at the ALCS: Rangers the A.L.'s new power

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McAdam at the ALCS: Rangers the A.L.'s new power

ARLINGTON, Texas -- While the Red Sox sort through their institutional dysfunction and the Yankees lick their wounds and weigh their options after a first-round exit, an interesting development has taken root in the American League.

The Texas Rangers have become the AL's third super power.

The Rangers dusted the pesky Detroit Tigers, 15-5, in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series and advance to the World Series for the second straight year.

That doesn't exactly put them in the dynasty category, but consider this: the Rangers are the first team in a decade to win back-to back American League pennants.

And if that hasn't caught the attention of the Yankees and Red Sox, it should.

"I think it's hard to repeat,'' said club president Nolan Ryan, "and when you look at our ballclub, with the young talent we have and the balance that we have . . . Are we elite? I don't know. But I'll say this: I think we're as good a ballclub as there is.''

Over the last few seasons, the Rangers have become an effective and efficient organization. General manager Jon Daniels has emerged as one of the game's top executives and a stabilized ownership group has provided him with the necessary resources.

The Rangers aren't about to spend dollar-for-dollar with the Red Sox and Yankees, with a 2011 payroll of 92 million, good for 13th among the 30 MLB clubs. But remember: They were willing to hand out more than 100 million to retain Cliff Lee last winter.

There's room to grow with that payroll, too. The Rangers' new local TV deal, worth nearly 3 billion, doesn't even kick in until 2015. That might not rival the revenues generated by the Yankees' YES Network or the Red Sox' NESN, but it will do.

(It's worth noting that the among all 30 teams, the Rangers play in the second-biggest unshared TV market.)

It might not even be enough for the Rangers to be players for the super-elite free agents such as Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder, but as the Red Sox and Yankees know all too well, that can be a dangerous neighborhood in which to work. The Rangers learned that first-hand with their 252 million contract for Alex Rodriguez.

Besides, these Rangers weren't built on big-dollar free agents. They've won consecutive divisions and pennants thanks to homegrown talent (Ian Kinsler, Derek Holland, Alexi Ogando, C.J. Wilson, Michael Young), shrewd trades (Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli, Nelson Cruz, David Murphy) and smart free agent signings (Adrian Beltre, Colby Lewis).

But the real foundation of the team came in a huge deal by Daniels in 2007 in which the Rangers traded Mark Teixeira to the Atlanta Braves and got shortstop Elvis Andrus, starter Matt Harrison, closer Neftali Feliz and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia in exchange.

The Texas farm system is well-regarded and was in the top half of all organizations last May by Baseball American, an achievement considering how many players the system has graduated in recent seasons, plus the four players they had to sacrifice to get Lee from Seattle in the middle of 2010.

The Rangers are in it for the long haul. And they've won as many pennants as the Yankees and Red Sox combined in the last six seasons.

The Super Two now have company.

Not that the Rangers feel their work is done. Reminded that his team had just become the first team to back-to-back A.L. pennants since the Yankees of 1998-2001, Daniels kept his perspective.

"I think the other teams that did it won the World Series,'' he said, ''so I think we've still got a pretty big step ahead of us before we can put ourselves in that group.''

It's even more incredible when you consider that, until the Rangers beat Tampa Bay in the Division Series a year ago October, they had won exactly one (1) postseason game in their history and had never won a playoff series. Now, they've won four of their last five.

Throw in the fact that the Rangers were literally auctioned to the highest bidder in the summer of 2010 and their journey is all the more remarkable.

Now, the Rangers are headed for the World Series again. And just in case the Red Sox and Yankees have been preoccupied surveying their own damage, they're not going anyway anytime soon.

Bogaerts has three hits, three RBI as Red Sox beat Rangers, 11-6

Bogaerts has three hits, three RBI as Red Sox beat Rangers, 11-6

BOSTON - Xander Bogaerts and the Boston Red Sox don't need help putting runs on the board right now. They got some from the Texas Rangers anyway.

Bogaerts had three RBI and twice scored on wild pitches, Dustin Pedroia had a two-run double during a four-run sixth inning and the Red Sox beat the Rangers 11-6 on Tuesday night.

"That's the kind of offense we have," Bogaerts said. "The weather's heating up and a lot of guys are putting good swings on the ball. It was a good win today. A lot of guys contributed."

Boston won its second in a row and once again did it primarily with offense. Coming off a 12-3 win at Oakland on Sunday, the Red Sox pummeled one of the hottest teams in the AL and helped Rick Porcello get just his second home win this season.

Porcello (3-5) won despite allowing 11 hits in 6 2/3 innings. The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner struck out four and allowed five runs, four earned.

"We got the win. That's what's most important. Obviously you don't want to go out there and give up five runs or whatever it was," Porcello said. "Our guys swung the bats extremely well and played really good defense and we were able to come out with it tonight."

Joey Gallo got his 14th homer for Texas, and Shin-Soo Choo went 2 for 5 with two RBIs.

Texas entered having won 11 of 12. The 11 runs allowed marked a season high.

The Rangers outhit the Red Sox 13-12 and Boston left eight runners on base, but Texas could not overcome eight walks, one of them intentional.

"It was the walks. Really that's been a nemesis from time to time this year," manager Jeff Banister said. "It's the freebies that showed up again tonight that got us in trouble."

Andrew Cashner (1-4) pitched five innings, allowing five runs, six hits and four walks. He also threw a pair of wild pitches, one of them allowing Bogaerts to score from third and put Boston up 2-1 after three.

Bogaerts was 3 for 5 and took advantage of misfires by Cashner and Jeremy Jeffress to score, and Andrew Benintendi came home on a balk by Alex Claudio in the eighth. Pedroia, who had his 500th career multihit game, and Mitch Moreland finished with two hits and two RBIs apiece.

Texas went to the bullpen in the sixth and the Red Sox broke open the game. Deven Marrero and Mookie Betts both walked with two outs and scored on Pedroia's double to right. Bogaerts followed with another double that scored Pedroia. Two more walks loaded the bases and Bogaerts scored on Jeffress' wild pitch, putting Boston up 9-3.

LET'S TALK

Boston manager John Farrell said the Red Sox took advantage of the day off Monday with a team meeting to chat about how the season had gone so far - and not just the areas that have kept Boston hovering around .500.

"It was also to re-emphasize the things that are going well here and not just to pick out all that is wrong here. There are a number of things going right and a number of those things were on display here tonight," Farrell said.

ROUGHED-UP RANGERS

Of his 90 pitches, Cashner threw 54 for strikes and was still irked after the game about walking four batters in five innings of work.

"I thought the walks in certain spots definitely hurt me. I think it could have been a different game had some things gone differently," Cashner said.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Rangers: 3B Adrian Beltre (strained right calf) did some running before the game and is making progress toward a return, manager Jeff Banister said. Beltre's next evaluation will be Thursday, and he could be back by the beginning of June, Banister said. ... Boston sent RHP Tyson Ross (thoracic outlet syndrome) on a rehab assignment to Triple-A Round Rock.

Red Sox: Called up 1B Sam Travis from Triple-A Pawtucket and optioned RHP Hector Velazquez to Pawtucket. Travis will platoon with Moreland. ... 3B Pablo Sandoval (right knee sprain) was ill and out of the lineup for Pawtucket in a rehab game. Manager John Farrell said Sandoval might need only two more rehab starts before returning.

UP NEXT

Rangers: LHP Martin Perez (2-5, 3.71 ERA) struck out eight in his last start, allowing two runs on five hits over seven innings Thursday against Philadelphia for his second win of the season.

Red Sox: LHP Chris Sale (4-2, 2.19 ERA) is riding a streak of eight consecutive starts with 10 or more strikeouts, an MLB record he also achieved in 2015 and shares with Pedro Martinez (1999).

Dombrowski defends John Farrell after group strategy meeting on Monday

Dombrowski defends John Farrell after group strategy meeting on Monday

BOSTON -- The Red Sox braintrust had a meeting on Monday's off-day to strategize with a 22-21 team that's underperforming and in third place.

President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski told NESN's Tom Caron on the Sox pre-game show that he was part of a meeting with Farrell, assistant general managers Eddie Romero and Brian O'Halloran and vice president of baseball research and development Zack Scott.

"We sat down yesterday for over a couple hours," Dombrowski told Caron. "I [had] already talked to some of our scouts and just kind of [went] over our club to try to get it to fit together a little bit. Because some of those things, the injuries, and even the guys that are playing, like in Hanley [Ramirez's] case, it does affect what you’re trying to do. So normally at this time of year, I think you have a better pulse [of the team]. But I think we need a little bit more time. We just really haven’t flowed as a club. We haven’t played as well as I think we’re capable of and I think we need to give ourselves that opportunity."

Asked about Farrell's job security, Dombrowski defended a manager whose 2018 option was picked up over the winter.

"Well, we won a divisional crown last year," Dombrowski said. "He managed very well for us at the time. I think that John, as well as everybody else, is frustrated by our performance and that we haven’t taken off, but we’re not buried either. I mean, we’re four games out of first place and we really haven’t been in a flow. And when you look at it, it’s like, OK, last week Thursday we won two great games in St. Louis. I wasn’t with the team, I was in Salem. 

"Well I looked at the match-up on Thursday, and I’m thinking, well if [Sonny] Gray throws like he’s capable, I’m not sure what we’re going to get out of [Hector] Velazquez at that particular time. And of course, Velazquez didn’t have a very good outing. So you lose that ball game. Is that John’s fault? I can’t put that on John. 

"Friday night, you have Chris Sale, he threw the ball very well. Well the play that Trevor Plouffe made on Hanley Ramirez, I don’t know if he’s made a play like that all year long. Mookie Betts, in the ninth inning gets a line drive right at the third baseman. Well, you have a chance to score five or six runs, didn’t happen. No excuses, but it’s one of those where I think to pin those things on John Farrell are just not fair. I think we’re in a position where he’s managed well, he’s managed divisional champions. I think we’re in a position, we have a good club. We just need to get in a better flow of things."

Dombrowski felt the Sox were harder to evaluate a quarter into the season than most teams would be.

"Because the reality is when you look at our ballclub, it really hasn’t been together at all at any point during the year for me," he said. "So I think when you look at it, you say OK, well, we need to improve our fourth and fifth starters. Well, David Price comes back next week — we think he’ll be back next week. So that’s a pretty big addition, that’s like making a major trade. 

"I still think Drew Pomeranz, although he has scuffled at times, should be a fourth-, fifth-type starter on a good club. … We need to straighten him out. I think he’s capable of doing that. When you talk about bullpen, our bullpen’s been good but I still think we’re going to get Carson Smith in a short time period, so that’s another addition that we have.

"Third base, you know has been a hole for us where Pablo Sandoval could be back very soon. I’m not sure where Brock Holt fits into that whole equation. So we’re really on our fifth third baseman right now when you look at it. Pablo is there, and then Brock Holt was there. Marco Hernandez is going to have surgery, we’re going to miss him for the rest of the year. Josh Rutledge has been over there."

Holt, out with vertigo, and the Red Sox are regrouping. Holt's exhausted the 20 days permitted for a minor league rehab stint, and is heading to Pittsburgh to meet concussion expert Micky Collins. Another rehab stint figures to follow eventually, barring a change in diagnosis.

Hernandez is to have surgery on his left shoulder Friday, which likely ends his season.

Hanley Ramirez can still be the DH, but his sore shoulders have relegated him to only that position, not first base. That's part of the reason Sam Travis was added to the roster Tuesday.

"There’s a couple reasons behind it," Dombrowski said of Travis' call-up.  "We’re in a position where we have a roster spot for a positional player. Secondly, we’ve talked about giving Mitch [Moreland] a little bit of a blow on his feet at times, to not play too many games. And we faced a left hand pitcher tomorrow [in the Rangers' Martin Perez]. He’s been hitting the ball well, Sam has. 

"We’re trying to sit [Moreland] a little bit vs. the left-handed pitching. Even though he’s done OK, we just don’t want him to get too tired as the year goes on. And the reality is, originally that was going to be Hanley [playing first base vs. lefties]. Well, Hanley’s not available to do that now, so we needed to make an adjustment ourself on how to do that. And with the extra roster spot, Pawtucket right down the road, we figure it’s a good chance to give him that opportunity. 

"In Hanley’s case, not playing first base, people don’t realize at times how much that changes the mix of your club. Because at some time, we are going to have Chris Young get at-bats and DH at that point."