ARLINGTON, TEXAS // After waiting until their 50th season to reach the World Series for the first time, the Texas Rangers are going right back.
Nelson Cruz hit another home run, and Michael Young had two doubles, in one of the highest-scoring post-season innings ever as the Rangers became the American League's first repeat champion in a decade.
They finished off the Detroit Tigers with a 15-5 romp on Saturday night to win the AL Championship Series (ALCS) in six games.
"This is a great trophy, we're real proud of it," Young said. "But we're looking forward to the one with all the flags on it [the World Series trophy] ... Happy, but not satisfied."
Cruz had six home runs and 13 runs batted in for the series - both records - including a two-run homer in the seventh inning to complete the Rangers' scoring.
Young hit a pair of two-run doubles in a nine-run third inning that sent the Rangers on their way to becoming the AL's first consecutive pennant winner since the New York Yankees won four in a row from 1998 to 2001.
"We wanted to get to the World Series. But the bottom line is getting to the World Series and winning it," said Ron Washington, the manager.
"We feel pretty confident about ourselves. More than anything else, the commitment they made in November, after San Francisco sent us home [from the 2010 World Series], they held true to it."
Texas will open the 2011 World Series on Wednesday night at St Louis or Milwaukee, seeking the first title in the history of a franchise that started play in 1961.
The World Series returns to Texas with Game 3 next Saturday night.
Young, who also homered, caught Brandon Inge's game-ending pop out in short right field and pumped his right hand into the air while fireworks and confetti filled the sky.
Cruz threw both hands in the air and briefly knelt to a knee in the outfield before running to the infield for the ginger ale-spraying celebrations, and a banner was unfurled high over centre field declaring the Rangers 2011 AL champions.
"It was fun to watch [Cruz]," the Rangers' Josh Hamilton said. "It's one thing to be in the stands. But when you're down here on the field with him, you can see the intensity, see the focus. To watch him do that was incredible."
With the former US president George W Bush, who was also a part-owner and president of the club at one time, seated in the front row alongside the Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan, who is part of the ownership group that took over the team last year, Washington was at the edge of the dugout wildly waving his arms and shouting encouragement as the big inning unfolded.
All Jim Leyland, the Tigers manager, could do was take off his cap and scratch his head as the Rangers kept reaching base off Max Scherzer, the starter, and three relievers.
"He [Scherzer] was out of whack for the most part all the way. His control was not good from the get go, really. And he had a tough time. And we just couldn't stop the bleeding," Leyland said.
A franchise that began as the expansion Washington Senators and moved to Texas in 1972 had failed to reach the World Series before last year, when Texas lost to the Giants in five games.
The Rangers had never even won a post-season series before last season.
"As soon as the season began, we were hungry, we were hungry to get back," Elvis Andrus, the shortstop, said.