ARLINGTON, Texas — Nelson Cruz and the Rangers are headed to their second straight World Series, finishing off the Tigers to become the American League's first repeat champion in a decade.
Cruz set a postseason record with his sixth homer of the series, Michael Young hit two two-run doubles in a nine-run third inning and Texas romped to a 15-5 win Saturday night that won the AL pennant in six games.
Texas will 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," Rangers third baseman 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 rightfield 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.
Cruz threw both hands in the air and briefly knelt in the outfield before running to the infield for the ginger ale-spraying celebration. A banner was unfurled high over centerfield declaring the Rangers 2011 AL champions.
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 Giants in five.
"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 and three relievers in the highest-scoring postseason inning since 2002.
Rangers manager Ron Washington was at the edge of the dugout waving his arms and shouting encouragement as the inning unfolded. All Tigers manager Jim Leyland could do was take off his cap and scratch his head.
While Young became the fourth player in postseason history with two extra-base hits in one inning — first a tying double into the leftfield corner then one down the rightfield line for a 9-2 lead — every batter in the lineup reached at least once in the third. By the time the fireworks were 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.
Now the Rangers get the chance to go a step further than last season.
"It's what you dream of, to be in the World Series," said Beltre, who had never been to the Series in his first 13 seasons before signing with the Rangers last offseason. "But we don't just want to go. We want to win it."