ARLINGTON -- They showed up night after night, regardless of what triple-digit number appeared on the thermometer. They shelled out money for pricey concessions and souvenirs.
In return, they saw the defending American League champions win their second straight division title, and created a type of home-field advantage that wasn't here before.
The Texas Rangers showed their appreciation for their fans Sunday, pulling away for a 12-5 victory over the Seattle Mariners in the last regular-season home game at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
The 43,508 fans Sunday helped set a franchise attendance record, as 2,946,949 people came to the Ballpark this season. That surpassed the previous total (2,945,244) set in 1997.
"If I had to script it, I couldn't have scripted it any better than what has happened," team president and CEO Nolan Ryan said. "Look back at 2008, we had 1.8 million in attendance, and we have added more than a million to that three years later.... It's a shame we had to endure the heat because I think we would've broken it substantially if we didn't have to deal with that."
The players certainly appreciated the support.
"Man, I give the fans all kinds of credit to survive that hot summer we had," reliever Darren Oliver said. "From a personal standpoint, I wouldn't be out here watching the game. Man, it was a smoking hot summer. That's above and beyond what I would've thought."
Now, the Rangers are trying to make sure to take full advantage of the home-field edge in the playoffs. With Sunday's victory, they remain one game ahead of the Detroit Tigers for the second seed in the playoffs.
If the Rangers are able to secure the No. 2 seed, they would most likely open against the wild card team on Friday.
"Home-field advantage definitely matters," said Ian Kinsler, who homered and stole two bases to bring him within one steal of a 30-30 season. "I don't know how much. It kind of depends on the team and the team that you're playing. We'd love to play the game at home."
Added Josh Hamilton: "It'd be nice to make a three-hour flight back here instead of a five or six hour flight over to New York."
It remained a possibility with a strong offensive performance, and solid pitching effort Sunday.
Adrian Beltre led off the second inning with his 30th home run of the season, and Kinsler had a two-run shot in a three-run third for Texas.
The Rangers pulled away with two runs in the fifth, and then Yorvit Torrealba sealed it. Torrealba had a solo homer in the sixth followed by a grand slam in the seventh.
"Torry had a good day," manager Ron Washington said. "When he hit that ball in the seventh, it put the game out of reach as far as we were concerned."
Washington limited starter Derek Holland to five innings. Holland started strong, retiring seven of the first eight batters he faced. He ran into trouble in the third and fourth, though, giving up a solo shot to Chris Gimenez and a two-run homer to Alex Liddi.
Holland said he didn't execute the pitches he would have liked on the home run balls, but feels ready for his upcoming start in the postseason.
"I feel strong and ready to go," Holland said.
So do the Rangers, and their fans.
"We definitely feed off our crowd, feed off their energy," Michael Young said.
"Our fans are starting to recognize how much a home-field advantage can mean in baseball."