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First Team to Clinch Rewarded

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Getty Images
    Closer Neftali Feliz #30 of the Texas Rangers celebrates with catcher Mike Napoli #25 and the rest of their teammates after the Rangers defeat the Tampa Bay Rays 4-3 in Game Four of the American League Division Series at Tropicana Field on October 4, 2011 in St Petersburg, Florida.

    Adrian Beltre's historic day and Matt Harrison's solid start did a lot for the short-term future of the Texas Rangers on Tuesday.

    Beltre's three solo home runs and Harrison's solid 5 innings of work catapulted the Rangers to the ALCS with their second 4-3 win over the formidable Tampa Bay Rays in less than 24 hours.

    Several hours later, the Rangers got a welcomed gift when the Yankees demolished the Tigers in Detroit to send the series back to The Bronx for a decisive Game 5.

    Fans will argue who they would rather see the Rangers face. If it's the Tigers, the Rangers have homefield. If it's the Yankees, the Rangers will without a doubt have the better playoff rotation. The players don't care.

    One thing the players and coaches will care about though is the fact that they get to sit back, relax and watch some baseball for a few days until the ALCS begins on Saturday in either Arlington or The Bronx.

    It's important because the Rangers can now set their rotation and no matter what Ron Washington decides to do, everyone would be pitching on full rest, assuming C.J. Wilson will start Game 1, which is a certainty, despite his 10.80 ERA in the ALDS in taking the Rangers' lone loss.

    After that, it's all up in the air. Colby Lewis shined on Monday, proving that he's the best postseason pitcher the Rangers have ever had, but Lewis is much better on the road than at home this season.

    That would lead you to believe that if the Yankees win Thursday, Lewis would start Game 2 in The Bronx. Lewis' weakness this year has been the long ball, and Yankee Stadium is a long ball factory. So who knows?

    One thing we do know? Your Texas Rangers are back in the ALCS and are just the second team since 2000-2001 (other than the Yankees and Red Sox) to reach the ALCS in back-to-back years.