Everything is moving according to plan with the Rangers.
They've dispatched the Rays for the second straight year, needing just four games this time and earning themselves some well-deserved rest before trying to continue the push to a second straight World Series. The games weren't always easy and the series got off to a rocky start, but baseball is a results business at the end of the day.
That doesn't mean we can't take one last look at the series to see whose stock is up and whose is down as the Rangers turn their attention to either the Tigers or the Yankees. We'll start with the guy who put this team together.
UP: Jon Daniels didn't have to make many moves this offseason, but the two biggest ones he made involved bringing Mike Napoli and Adrian Beltre to town. Those moves paid off handsomely in this series as Napoli drove in two runs to help the team win Game Two and hit the home run that got them off the mat in Game Three. Beltre's three homers on Tuesday probably constituted the finest non-Cliff Lee playoff moment in franchise history.
DOWN: Daniels' in-season acquisitions didn't fare quite as well. Koji Uehara and Mike Adams both struggled against the Rays and turned the bullpen back into a concern after helping to quiet the worries after they arrived at the trade deadline.
UP: Full blown panic never developed, though, because the Rangers were able to welcome Alexi Ogando back to the land of the living. After making the All-Star team, Ogando became a forgotten man as fatigue left him a shell of himself by August but we saw what he was capable of with his return to his old role as Neftali Feliz's set-up man.
DOWN: Nelson Cruz still doesn't look like he's recovered his swing after his late-season trip to the disabled list. He hit .205 in September and managed just one hit in 15 at-bats against Tampa. There's nothing to do but keep writing his name in the lineup and hope that things turn around, but if he doesn't there won't be a ton of lineup cards left to fill out.
UP: The Rangers put their speed to good use on the basepaths during the series, reading pitchers well and coming up with timely steals that helped them grab Game Three. It's not a weapon that you immediately think of being a big part of the Rangers attack, but this is the time of year to use every bullet in the gun.
DOWN: Having said that, the Rangers also made two outs while looking to steal and the line between helping and hurting yourself on the bases is mighty thin. Pushing past that line and giving away outs can be the difference between winning and losing in a short series. Balancing the risk with the reward going forward will be a crucial part of Ron Washington's job.
UP: Entering the playoffs, there were varying levels of doubt about Derek Holland, Colby Lewis and Matt Harrison. All three of them put those fears to rest with strong performances in their starts and Holland even added a useful relief outing on Tuesday. Assuming C.J. Wilson won't be as bad as he was in Game One again this month, the rotation is looking pretty solid.
DOWN: The cameraman pictured above. Literally. It's even more amusing in video.