Nelson Cruz and the Texas Rangers are headed to their second straight World Series, finishing off the Detroit Tigers to become the American League's first repeat champion in a decade.
Cruz set a postseason record with his sixth home run of the series, Michael Young hit a pair of two-run doubles in a nine-run third inning, and the Rangers romped to a 15-5 win Saturday night that won the AL pennant in six games.
They'll open the 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.
Cruz had 13 RBIs in the series, another postseason record, and was selected MVP.
"He was unbelievable," teammate Adrian Beltre said. "Every moment we needed him, he came through."
Young, who also homered, had five RBIs in the finale, and the longest-tenured player on the Rangers helped make sure the World Series will again be deep in the heart of Texas.
Young caught Brandon Inge's game-ending popout in short right field and pumped a fist into the air signaling "No. 1" while fireworks and confetti filled the air, then ran toward the middle of the field to celebrate with his teammates.
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 celebration to come while a banner was unfurled high over center field declaring the Rangers 2011 AL champions
With former President George W. Bush seated in the front row alongside Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan, part of the ownership group that took over the team last year, Rangers manager Ron Washington was at the edge of the dugout wildly waving his arms and shouting encouragement to his players as the big inning unfolded.
All Tigers manager Jim Leyland could do was take off his cap and scratch his head.
A franchise that began as the expansion Washington Senators and moved to Texas in 1972 had failed to reach the World Series in its first 49 seasons. Then the Rangers won their first AL pennant last year only to lose the Series to the San Francisco Giants in five games.
"As soon as the season began, we were hungry, we were hungry to get back," Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus said.
Texas overcame a 2-0 deficit by sending 14 batters to the plate against Detroit starter Max Scherzer (0-1) and three relievers in the highest-scoring postseason inning since 2002.
Alexi Ogando (2-0) pitched two scoreless innings for his second win in the series as the Rangers became the AL's first consecutive pennant winner since the New York Yankees won four in a row from 1998-01.
While Young became only the fourth player in postseason history with two extra-base hits in the same inning - first a tying double into the left-field corner and then one down the right field line for a 9-2 lead - every batter in the Texas lineup reached base at least once before the third out of the third. By the time all the fireworks was over, the Rangers scored the most runs ever in a postseason game against the Tigers and the most in any postseason contest since the Yankees routed Boston 19-8 in Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS.
Also among the sellout crowd of 51,508 was Dirk Nowitzki, MVP of the NBA finals won by the Dallas Mavericks in June.
Now the Rangers get another chance to bring another championship to the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and go a step further than last season.
Young, in his 11th season in Texas, had played in 1,508 career regular season games before finally getting into the playoffs last year. He added a huge exclamation point to his already big night when he led off the seventh with a 416-foot homer to straightaway center field.
His five RBIs matched the Rangers postseason record set by Cruz in Game 2.
Young's two two-run doubles came in the highest-scoring inning in a postseason game since the Angels s matched a playoff record with 10 runs in the seventh inning of Game 5 during the 2002 ALCS against Minnesota.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)