ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — After Michael Young went around the Texas Rangers’ clubhouse hugging teammates, he stood at his locker wearing a World Series shirt — and a determined look.
“We fell short,” Young said. “But we’ve raised the bar. And every guy that said something talked about holding the trophy next year.”
The clubhouse doors remained closed for an extended time following the 3-1 loss in Game 5 of the World Series on Monday night that gave this year’s trophy to the San Francisco Giants.
While champagne was being sprayed as part of a wild celebration in the visiting clubhouse down the hall, Rangers coaches and players took some time to reflect on an unprecedented season that came to a disappointing end.
“To come this far and not get it done, it hurts a little bit,” outfielder David Murphy said. “You have to use it as motivation to come back next year, and get here and take the next step.”
The Rangers had never won a postseason series or even a home playoff game before this season, the franchise’s 50th.
Now they are American League champions, though the World Series title eluded them because their best pitcher and biggest bats fizzled at the worst possible time.
Ace left-hander Cliff Lee, the prized midseason acquisition Texas got to win games like this, was definitely better in Game 5 than in the Series opener, when he had his worst postseason outing ever. Still, it wasn’t good enough to beat Tim Lincecum.
No matter how well the free agent-to-be might have pitched in maybe his last start for the Rangers, Lee got no help from a potent lineup that went from slugging to slumping.
“They outpitched us the whole series,” Lee said. “Against this lineup, that’s highly impressive what they did with the ball. A lot of credit goes to their pitching and defense. It was outstanding, and they flat-out beat us.”
The Rangers led the majors with a .276 batting average in the regular season. Their meager .190 average in the World Series was the third-lowest ever, and they scored only 12 runs — five in the last four games while being shut out in Games 2 and 4.
They scored only once in the final 21 innings, a solo homer by Nelson Cruz in the seventh Monday night.
“Obviously, we have a great offense, so we feel like we should score no matter what,” said Young, the team’s career hits leader and longest-tenured player in his 10th season. “They threw really well, they deserve credit for that, they won the World Series — but as a competitor you always want to put it on yourself. You always want to say it doesn’t matter who’s out there, you’ve got to find a way to score runs. We just didn’t get it done.”
The last team shut out twice in the World Series was the 1966 Los Angeles Dodgers, who failed to score in the last three games while being swept by Baltimore.
Josh Hamilton, who led the majors with a .359 average in the regular season, went 2 for 20 in the World Series. The big bats of Young, Hamilton, Vladimir Guerrero and Nelson Cruz were a combined 12 for 74 (.162).
“We just got cold at the wrong time with the bats. And that happens,” Hamilton said. “Sometimes you feel good and you just don’t get hits. You hate for it to happen in the World Series, but it did.”
While the Rangers had 29 hits in the Series, the Giants scored 29 runs.
The Rangers’ best hitter was Mitch Moreland, the rookie first baseman who batted ninth and didn’t even join the team until July 27. He went 6 for 13 (.462) and his three-run homer was the big hit for Texas in its only victory, 4-2 in Game 3.
Texas managed only three singles in eight innings off rookie left-hander Madison Bumgarner in Game 4, then got only two singles and Cruz’s homer in the finale off Lincecum, who struck out 10. Closer Brian Wilson was perfect with two strikeouts in the ninth inning both nights.
Lee was 7-0 with a 1.26 ERA in eight career postseason starts going into this World Series. He had won Games 1 and 5 last year for Philadelphia against the New York Yankees, who won the other four games for their 27th championship.
This time, he lost Games 1 and 5 of the World Series, though the Rangers certainly want him to come back.
The 2008 AL Cy Young Award winner will be one of the most sought-after free agents this winter. The Rangers beat the Yankees in the playoffs, but it could be costly to top them again in free agency.
“We’ve got a great future as an organization and we’re going to be prepared to be aggressive to help make his decision easier,” Chuck Greenberg, the front man for the team’s ownership group, said in the clubhouse after the game without being specific.
Before his disappointing World Series, Lee pitched a complete game in the AL division series clincher against Tampa Bay after winning the opener of that series for Texas. In his only start against the Yankees in the AL championship series, he struck out 13 and allowed only two hits over eight innings.
“I like this team. This is a very fun team to play on. It was a very talented group of guys. I expect this team to do some really good things next year,” Lee said. “I don’t know if I’m going to be a part of it or not. I would love to be. But there are so many things that can happen.”
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.