(Reuters) - The Texas Rangers crushed the Detroit Tigers 15-5 on Saturday to reach the World Series for the second year in a row by winning the best-of-seven American League Championship Series 4-2.
The Rangers erupted for nine runs in the third inning to overturn a 2-0 deficit and launch a Texas-sized party at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
At the center of the celebrations was slugging outfielder Nelson Cruz, who launched another 'Cruz missile' with his two-run home run in the seventh inning that gave him a playoff series record six homer and 13 runs batted in, as well as the ALCS Most Valuable Player Award.
"The more you win, it's getting more exciting," Cruz told reporters. "We're back to the World Series, what more can we ask for?"
With former U.S. President George W. Bush, a one-time owner of the Major League Baseball club, sitting in the stands next to co-owner and baseball Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan, the Rangers sent 14 batters to the plate in a thunderous third inning as four Detroit pitchers tried to stop the Texas stampede.
The onslaught was keyed by a pair of two-run doubles from Michael Young, who had carried a slumping .158 series average into the game and later added a home run to his batting line.
"It's very sweet," said Young, a 15-year veteran, who last year reached the postseason for the first time and went all the way to the World Series before the Rangers lost in five games to the San Francisco Giants.
"We're happy to be going to the World Series right now. But we have a lot of work to do. We're happy, but we're not satisfied."
At the trophy presentation on the field, Ryan said: "I couldn't be prouder of this group of men who came together this spring with a mission with one thing in mind, that this is a stepping stone to what they want to get done and that's to win a world championship."
Manager Ron Washington saluted his players.
"We couldn't have done it without the commitment and the way they grind every single day," he said. "All of us in this game know it's not easy to get back to this point. I tip my hat to you.
"They believed in one another and they never cared who got it done as long as it got done. And that's 'team' right there."
Solo home runs in the first inning by Miguel Cabrera and in the second by Jhonny Peralta lifted Detroit into an early lead against Texas starter Derek Holland.
The advantage was short-lived as the Rangers' bats roared to life in the third against Tigers' starter Max Scherzer, who was followed to the mound by Dan Schlereth, Rick Porcello and Ryan Perry.
Perry retired Adrian Beltre to finally end the third inning barrage.
Texas reliever Scott Feldman got the final out of the fifth inning after Holland had yielded a two-run homer to Austin Jackson. Alexi Ogando followed him to the mound and got credit for the win.
Detroit's Cabrera added his second homer of the game in the eighth.
"They earned it, and proved in this series that they were the team that should be representing the American League in the World Series," said Tigers manager Jim Leyland.
The Rangers became the first American League team to reach the World Series in consecutive Major League Baseball seasons since the New York Yankees made four straight trips from 1998-2001.
Texas will meet the winner of the NLCS, which the St. Louis Cardinals lead 3-2 over the Brewers. Milwaukee host Game Six on Sunday.
(Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Peter Rutherford)