Derek Holland of the Texas Rangers throws a pitch during Game Two of the American League Division Series against the Tampa Bay Rays at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on October 1, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.
The Texas Rangers hope to punch their World Series ticket for a second straight season tonight at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
The Rangers lead the series three games to two. The Rangers haven't lost back-to-back games this postseason, and they're coming off a loss in Game 5.
They also won Game 6 of the ALCS at home last postseason. The difference is they were coming off a momentum-building victory over the Yankees in New York, and this time they're coming off a loss in Detroit.
"We know what's at stake, and we clearly will go out there and try to play to what the game asks us to do and try to execute in certain situations," Washington said. "In the end, good things will happen. Having been through it, yes, we're more confident and, yes, we're very relaxed."
Holland Pitching for the Rangers
Derek Holland will start Game 6 of the American League championship series against the Detroit Tigers and Max Scherzer.
The Rangers left-hander insists he didn't feel jittery while starting Game 2 of the AL championship series, but he gave up four hits and four walks while getting just eight outs against Detroit.
As he prepares to start Game 6, the 25-year-old with the fuzzy mustache says he's learned a lesson about getting a grip on himself.
"I felt calm, but everybody said you could see that I was going a little too fast for the way I usually work," Holland said Friday. "So the big thing now is just to control myself, and I feel like I'm going to be doing just fine with that."
Tigers Try to Silence the Boomstick
Detroit manager Jim Leyland was open for suggestions when asked if it was time to reevaluate how the Tigers are pitching to Texas slugger Nelson Cruz who hit the first game-ending walk-off grand slam in postseason history.
"That would be a good idea," Leyland said. "We've had him actually set up for some situations where we thought we could make the right pitch and get him out, but we really haven't done that."
Against the Tigers, Cruz tied Game 2 when he led off the seventh with a solo homer that chased Max Scherzer. The Detroit starter had retired 12 in a row following a double by Cruz, who was hit by a pitch near his wrist in the ninth and then hit his slam.
"I realize he's a good hitter and he's hot. Given that, you can't fear him. You have to go right after him," Scherzer said Friday. "Even though he's hot, if the situation arises, you might have to be more careful. My game plan, I guarantee you, going forward will be to be aggressive with him." Scherzer gets another chance Saturday night.
Cruz is 6 for 18 against the Tigers, with a double, five homers and 11 RBIs, matching the ALCS record and one shy of the tying the mark for any postseason series.
"Yes, it's amazing with him hitting the ball out of the ballpark the way he's doing it. But it certainly isn't anything we haven't seen before," Washington said. "We're just happy that it's happening at this time."
Now Cruz is living up to his boomstick moniker that became common after an MLB 2K10 video game promotion last year, a season after he was second in the Home Run Derby.
"You just continue to say `Wow, this guy is really good'," said David Murphy, who as the No. 8 hitter usually is on deck when Cruz hits.
Cruz bats seventh in the Texas lineup, behind Josh Hamilton, Young, Adrian Beltre and Mike Napoli.
While the Rangers had an optional light workout late Friday afternoon at Rangers Ballpark that lasted less than an hour, the Tigers opted for some extra time at home before flying back to Texas after extending the series with a 7-5 victory Thursday.
Cruz wasn't in the clubhouse Friday when it was open to reporters, who were told the slugger was taking the day off along with center fielder Hamilton (left groin strain) and Beltre, who fouled a ball off his knee in Detroit.
But Cruz was later on the field and fully participated in batting practice.
What to Know Before You Go to the Ballpark
There should be ideal weather conditions this weekend, when the game-time temperatures are expected to be around 80 degrees with no chance of rain.
Parking lots at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington open at 2 p.m., gates open at 4 p.m. with Rangers batting practice starting at 4:20 p.m. followed by Tigers batting practice.
Texas recording artist Jack Ingram will sing the National Anthem, and Rangers Hall of Fame pitcher John Wetteland will throw out the ceremonial first pitch to Rangers Hall of Fame outfielder Rusty Greer.
First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. and Michael Borts of the Vocal Majority will sing God Bless America during the seventh inning stretch.