- Associated Press - Saturday, October 29, 2011

ARLINGTON, TEXAS (AP) - Moving boxes with the numbers and names of players were scattered around the Texas Rangers clubhouse Saturday. Some were already taped up while others had yet to be filled.

Stacked on a pallet in the hall outside were unopened bottles of champagne that had been intended for a championship celebration. The World Series logos that had been painted so brightly on the field a week earlier were already faded and almost unrecognizable.

There’s always next year for the Rangers.

After coming so agonizingly close to winning its first championship, Texas could have all of the key pieces back next year for a third consecutive try after ending the season with a loss in the World Series for the second year in a row.

But the Rangers first have to shake off what happened against the St. Louis Cardinals.

“Not much to assess,” said Michael Young, the team’s longest-tenured player and career hits leader after 11 seasons. “We got really close, just couldn’t get that final out. This is going to be something that is going to sit with us for a little bit.”

Twice in Game 6 at St. Louis, the Rangers were within one strike of winning the Series before losing that game in 11 innings. They then led 2-0 only four batters into Game 7 before losing 6-2 on Friday night, the first time in more than two months they lost consecutive games.

“We appreciate what we’ve done and we’re happy and blessed with things that happened, but at the same time, it’s a letdown to us,” left-hander Derek Holland said. “This just ended, we’re not going to go too far (ahead) yet. We didn’t get what we wanted, just got to use that for next year again, push ourselves again.”

That’s what the Rangers did this year.

The franchise that had to wait until its 50th season to get to the World Series before losing in five games to San Francisco last year, quickly got another chance.

“This club is unbelievably resilient, unbelievably mentally strong top to bottom. … People asked us that this year in spring training, was there going to be a World Series hangover, and obviously there wasn’t. That’s the farthest thing from my mind,” general manager Jon Daniels said. “Our mindset was never a one-year, two-year window. It was to build something to last a long time. Can’t predict the future, but I know we’re going to do everything we can to get back.”

Even after losing ace left-hander Cliff Lee in free agency, the Rangers set a franchise record with 96 wins and won their second consecutive American League pennant _ only to finish on the losing side again, though this time it felt different.

“It’s more disappointing. We were closer,” Young said.

“I don’t remember a lot about the World Series last year. I know I’m going to remember this World Series,” slugger Josh Hamilton said. “It’s going to motivate guys, it really is. … Don’t forget how this felt getting close.”

Left-hander C.J. Wilson, who became the No. 1 starter after Lee’s departure, is the only prominent free agent for the Rangers.

Story Continues →