ARLINGTON -- Their numbers weren't pretty after six games of the American League Championship Series, but the four members of the Texas Rangers' starting rotation gladly accepted the end result.
Four games to two. A second straight AL title. The trip to the World Series that accompanies the pennant.
"We won, right?" said right-hander Colby Lewis, who shrugged his shoulders when reminded that all four victories were recorded by members of the bullpen.
Ultimately, Lewis is right, but that doesn't mean that he and the three other starters who will pitch in the 107th Fall Classic are looking for an ALCS repeat.
They want the ball, and they want to keep it as long as they can. That's what manager Ron Washington wants, too.
And they'd better be better, because no team has ever won a World Series without having a starter pitch into the seventh inning.
"I expect those guys to go deeper than they have," Washington said. "But the bottom line is, however deep they went, they kept us in the ballgame and we were able to pull some of them out.
"We hope this time that they can take the ball and keep it for a long time, hopefully nine innings. But if that's the route [using the bullpen early] I have to go, I feel like we'll win."
The Rangers' opponent, the St. Louis Cardinals, had similar results from its rotation during the National League Championship Series.
The Cardinals didn't have a starter pitch past the fifth inning, while the Rangers had two.
Rangers left-hander Derek Holland, who failed to pitch beyond the third inning of Game 2 and couldn't get out of the fifth in Game 6, said that the rotation is frustrated by their playoff performances.
Only Lewis has delivered a quality start, allowing one run over six innings in Game 3 of the AL Division Series. He and C.J. Wilson pitched past the fifth inning in the ALCS, but the Rangers lost both games.
Wilson, who will be the Rangers' Game 1 starter for Wednesday's opener at St. Louis, led the Rangers in average innings per start at almost 62/3 innings. He hasn't cleared five in two of his three playoff starts.
"He's my No. 1 guy. My feelings haven't changed," Washington said. "What I expect to see out of C.J. is for him to go out there and keep the ball for seven or eight innings and have us turn it over to the bullpen late."
Only Wilson's spot in the World Series rotation has been determined, though the Rangers will stick with Lewis, Holland and lefty Matt Harrison.
Harrison won't start in St. Louis, either in the first two games or the final two if-necessary games.
Holland wants another shot to show the rest of baseball how well the Rangers' starters pitched in the regular season.
Along with Alexi Ogando and spot starts by Dave Bush and Scott Feldman, the rotation had the AL's third-best ERA at 3.65.
The rotation's ERA in the ALCS was 6.59 and is 5.62 after 10 playoff games.
"We haven't pitched to our abilities," Holland said. "We're better than we have been. We showed it all year.
"We haven't lasted as long as we wanted to. We're very frustrated. We know we're capable of going longer than we have been."
But this is the playoffs, and the Rangers are headed to the World Series. There's not much wiggle room to let a starter work himself out of a jam. The starters know that Washington, aka Captain Hook, will act quickly if they struggle.
"I think my hook has been right on time," Washington said. "If it just happened to be in the third inning, so be it.
"The games are going that way, and you're trying to make sure you stay in the ballgame. Whatever you have to do when the game starts, you try to do it."
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760