The 2011 Rangers opened the defense of their 2010 American League pennant by winning their first six games of the season. In those six games, Nelson Cruz -- hitting in the fifth or sixth spot -- had 20 at-bats, collected seven hits, saw four of those seven hits leave the yard and drove in six of the team's 42 runs.
Cruz homered in each of the first four games of the season, placing his name alongside Willie Mays in 1971 and Mark McGwire in '98 as the only players in baseball history to do that.
In the 2011 regular season, the Rangers were 96-66. When Cruz started, the team was 76-46.
When Cruz starts for the Rangers, they are a fantastic baseball team; and when he goes on one of his dominating runs -- like the one that began the year or the one during which he hit six homers in six League Championship Series games -- Texas can be virtually unbeatable.
The Rangers collected 17 hits, scored nine runs in the third inning and defeated the Tigers, 15-5, to win the ALCS in six games.
Texas is the 22nd AL team to win pennants in consecutive seasons, and the first since the 1998-2001 Yankees.
Rangers' big bats
Texas' 17 hits tied for the third most for a team in a deciding game of the LCS. In Game 3 in 1969, the Orioles had 18. The Angels matched that 18-hit total in Game 5 of the 2002 ALCS. In Game 7 in 1996, the Braves had 17 hits against the Cardinals.
The Rangers' 15 runs tied for the most in the deciding game of an LCS. The Braves beat the Cardinals, 15-0, in Game 7 in 1996.
Cruz, who won the ALCS Most Valuable Player Award, went 2-for-4 on Saturday with two runs scored, two RBIs a double and his sixth home run of the series.
Most RBIs in a single Postseason Series
The six home runs were the most for a player in any single postseason series. Before 2011, the previous high mark of five was shared by Reggie Jackson (1977 World Series), Chase Utley (2009 World Series), Ken Griffey, Jr. (1995 AL Division Series) and Juan Gonzalez ('96 ALDS). Cruz's six homers are two more than the previous high for an LCS. Ten players had shared the previous LCS record of four.
Cruz had 13 RBIs in the ALCS -- the most for any single postseason series. Bobby Richardson (1960 World Series) and John Valentin ('99 ALDS) shared the previous record, with 12.
Cruz had eight extra-base hits in the series -- the second most for a player in an LCS. Hideki Matsui had nine (six doubles, a triple and two home runs) in the 2004 ALCS. Cruz had 28 total bases in the series. That total tied him with Albert Pujols ('04 NLCS) and Matsui ('04 ALCS) for the most in any single series.
Cruz has played in 26 career postseason games and has career totals of 12 home runs, 24 RBIs and 21 extra-base hits.
The 12 homers through his first 26 postseason games are the most in history. Carlos Beltran, with 11, owns the second most.
The 24 RBIs through his first 26 postseason games are tied for the fourth most. Lou Gehrig had 32, Jim Edmonds had 26 and Scott Spiezio had 25. With 24, Cruz tied Matsui and Ryan Howard.
The 21 extra-base hits through his first 26 postseason games are the most in baseball history. Gehrig owns the second most, with 18.
Michael Young went 3-for-6 with two doubles, a home run and five RBIs on Saturday.
The three extra-base hits tied Young with Paul Blair (1969 ALCS Game 3), Alex Rodriguez (2000 ALCS Game 6) and Adam Kennedy ('02 ALCS Game 5) for the most in a deciding game of an LCS.
The five RBIs tied Young with Blair (1969 ALCS Game 3), Kennedy (2002 ALCS Game 5) and Dustin Pedroia ('07 ALCS Game 7) for the second most in an LCS deciding game. The top mark belongs to Johnny Damon, who had six RBIs in Game 7 of the '04 ALCS.
The Tigers hit four home runs in Game 6 to tie the ALCS record they set one game earlier. Detroit is the first team to hit four home runs in consecutive postseason games.
With the four homers in Game 6, the Tigers became the ninth team to hit at least that many in a deciding game of a playoff series, but the first to do it in a losing cause.
The Tigers hit 13 home runs in the 2011 ALCS. That total was the third highest for an LCS, and the most for a six-game LCS. The Rays hit 16 in the 2008 ALCS (seven games) and the Astros hit 14 in the '04 NLCS (seven games). The previous six-game series record was 10, by the 1992 Blue Jays.
Miguel Cabrera became the 39th player to hit at least two homers in an LCS game. Three of those 39 came in the 2011 ALCS -- the most multihomer games for a single LCS. The other two in this year's ALCS were by Cruz (Game 2) and Delmon Young (Game 5).
Cabrera has hit safely in all 13 of his career LCS games (seven NLCS games in 2003, six ALCS games this year). That hitting streak in the LCS from the start of one's career is tied for the longest. Greg Luzinski hit safely in each of his first 13 LCS games, from Game 1 of the 1976 NLCS through Game 2 of the '80 NLCS.
Cabrera has reached base at least twice in six straight postseason games. That streak tied him with Placido Polanco (2006) for the longest in Tigers history.
Cabrera became the sixth player to hit a pair of home runs in a loss in the deciding game of a postseason series. The others: Jackson (1971 ALCS Game 3), Ken Caminiti ('96 NLDS Game 3), Jeff Kent ('97 NLDS Game 3), Jim Thome ('99 ALDS Game 5) and Manny Ramirez (2005 ALDS Game 3).
Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.