ARLINGTON, Texas — Inside the Rangers' clubhouse after Sunday's Game 4 of the American League division series, there was no plastic tarp covering the lockers. There was no champagne being sprayed or music being blasted.
Instead, equipment bags were laid out in front of each player's stall. The only sights and sounds were of players packing their gear.
Instead of celebrating a trip to the next series in the playoffs, the Rangers were packing for their next trip in this series.
For the second straight day, the Rangers had a chance to win the franchise's first playoff series. For the second straight day, they failed. And now they're headed back to Tampa Bay for a Game 5 they never thought they would need to play.
"We would've loved to have won one of these games, obviously," third baseman Michael Young said. "It didn't work out that way."
Not much has worked out lately for a team that seemed assured of moving on after taking the first two games at Tropicana Field and returning to Texas, where it had the fourth-best home record in the American League.
"The first two games, we swung the bats, and the last two games, we've haven't," centerfielder Josh Hamilton said. "That's really all it is."
But it has been more than that. The pitching has been shaky, the Rangers have kicked the ball around defensively, and manager Ron Washington has taken heat for some of his decisions.
Sunday, the Rangers brought out all the cliches you would expect to hear from a team that has seen a 2-0 series lead disappear. Young talked about how much fun it will be to play one game "for all the marbles." Catcher Bengie Molina talked about how the Rangers expected nothing less than a five-game series. Rightfielder David Murphy talked about how big-leaguers dream of playing in a winner-take-all game.
The lone good news for the Rangers is they have postseason ace Cliff Lee rested and ready to go.
"Everyone understands that if we lose, it's over," second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "When you get between the lines, the game is exactly the same. There are just more people in the stands, it's louder, and there are more cameras. Other than that, bases don't eject out of the ground or anything like that. Guys aren't throwing 150 (mph). It's just a little bit more intense, and there's one more left."
Albeit one the Rangers didn't want — or expect — to have to play.