ARLINGTON -- There is a statue outside the Texas Live! entertainment complex celebrating the Rangers' first trip to the World Series. The sculpture depicts reliever Neftali Feliz and catcher Bengie Molina embracing after Alex Rodriguez struck out to end the 2010 American League Championship Series."The moment of it, striking out
ARLINGTON -- There is a statue outside the Texas Live! entertainment complex celebrating the Rangers' first trip to the World Series. The sculpture depicts reliever Neftali Feliz and catcher Bengie Molina embracing after Alex Rodriguez struck out to end the 2010 American League Championship Series.
"The moment of it, striking out A-Rod, going to the World Series, there was nothing like it," Molina said. "Going to the World Series for the Rangers, knowing they wanted me in a trade, everything worked out great. We didn't get the trophy we were looking for, but it was a special moment."
It may seem unusual that Molina is part of a statue that commemorates the 2010 AL pennant winners. That team included Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero, AL Most Valuable Player Award winner Josh Hamilton and All-Stars like Michael Young, Elvis Andrus, Ian Kinsler, Cliff Lee and Nelson Cruz.
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But Molina played a significant role in the Rangers reaching the World Series, an unlikely hero who was acquired from the Giants on July 1 during what would be his final season in the Major Leagues.
"That team had star talent all over the field," Young said. "Bengie brought stability, another veteran who brought enthusiasm and energy and, frankly, had played in games that we hadn't played in to that point. We needed big game experience."
General manager Jon Daniels said Molina and Matt Treanor gave the Rangers two mature, stable and selfless leaders behind the plate.
"They were able to get the most out of our pitching staff, many of whom were young and inexperienced," Daniels said. "Bengie in particular brought with him a sense of been there, done that. He stabilized us at a position we'd lacked for a while."
Molina's most memorable moment during the season was hitting for the cycle on July 16 in Boston. There would be more to come in the postseason, beginning with the speech he gave to the team before the Division Series against the Rays at Tropicana Field. Molina had been the Angels' catcher when they won the World Series in 2002, and his words carried weight in the Rangers' clubhouse.
"It was amazing," Andrus said. "Eighty percent of the team didn't have any experience in the postseason, and he was one of the guys who had been there and done it, won it all. For him to speak up, tell us to chill out and keep playing the way we're playing, it really helped the team relax."
"We are supposed to lose," Molina told his teammates. "So let's go out there and have fun, see what happens."
Daniels said it was a memorable moment for the Rangers.
"It was how he said it, with sincerity and passion, that I remember," Daniels said.
Molina then went out and finished 3-for-4 with a home run in the Rangers' 5-1 victory in Game 1. He ended up going 5-for-14 in the series as the Rangers advanced in five games.
His biggest moment came in Game 4 against the Yankees in the Bronx. The Rangers were up one game in the ALCS but were trailing, 3-2, going into the sixth inning. With two outs and Cruz on second, the Yankees elected to walk David Murphy and bring up Molina.
"The right move that went wrong," Molina said.
Molina jumped on the first pitch from starter A.J. Burnett and drove it out of the ballpark for a three-run homer in what may have been the pivotal moment of the series. The Rangers went on to a 10-3 win and took a 3-1 lead in the series.
"It was huge," Andrus said. "I remember him slapping his chest four times after hitting that home run. We were looking for that. We knew he was a great clutch hitter. For them to walk the guy in front of him, he was perfect for that. We knew something was going to happen."
Three days later, Molina and Feliz were hugging each other after Game 6 in Arlington.
"It was one of the most special moments in my life and baseball career," Molina said.
T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.