ST. LOUIS -- No game in the World Series is just another game, no matter how hard players try to make it seem that way.
The World Series is baseball's promised land. It's an event that media from across the country travel to cover. Each game is the only baseball game on TV.
The Texas Rangers understand that this week as they play in their second consecutive Fall Classic. They didn't realize the magnitude of the event last year as they lost in five games to San Francisco.
Having a better handle on the hoopla and knowing the level of play it takes to win a World Series game are part of the reasons why the Rangers believe they are better equipped to beat St. Louis this year.
"Just thinking about it, being the World Series, it's a different feeling," second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "It's pretty similar to all the other postseason games, but they've got 'World Series' on the field. Everyone's watching these particular games.
"There's a lot more attention on it. Just taking that away from last year and being able to experience that, and having it be so fresh in our memories I think is going to help us."
The Rangers have shown down the stretch that they know how to win. If they needed to squeeze a run across to win 2-1 or 9-8, they found a way. If they needed three outs to win, they found a way.
Part of that comes from manager Ron Washington, who never looks back and never looks forward. He asks his players to play for the day at hand, and the Rangers have adapted that as their mantra.
It works in the postseason, too, cutting through all the distractions and anxiety, and just playing a game. They also expected to return to the World Series, and have built more and more confidence in defending their AL pennant.
"We expect to win it this year," center fielder Josh Hamilton said. "We were prepared last year. I just think we were overexcited to be there. This year, everything's just kind of slowed down, and it feels like another series we've got to play."
There will be some nerves before tonight's 7:05 first pitch, for sure, but the Rangers have learned how to manage their emotions. When things aren't going well, they can't press. When things are going well, they can't lose their focus.
All those things were learned last year while losing in five games to the Giants. As first baseman Michael Young said, those experiences can't hurt.
"Nothing's going to take us by surprise when we get there," Young said. "We know what to expect. We know it's going to be nuts when we get to town. But I think we know to focus on things that really matter and make sure our attention is on things that happen between the lines."
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760