The Rangers and the 1986 Boston Red Sox are the only teams to get within one out of a World Series title without winning.
"I've had 'What-if' thoughts a lot," Ian Kinsler said. "I'm sure it's going to enter some guys' minds, probably will enter my mind at least once. But it's over with, so we've got to think three games there to win. That will be the first thing we will be thinking about."
A year after going to their first World Series, losing to San Francisco in five games, the Rangers won their second consecutive AL pennant in 2011 to set up the matchup against St. Louis. They lost the AL's first one-and-done wild-card game last October.
There are 12 players who appeared in the 2011 World Series for Texas still on the team. Five are pitchers, and the only one not currently on the disabled list is left-hander Derek Holland (5-4), the scheduled starter for Friday night's series opener
Holland's only appearance against St. Louis two years ago was in Game 4, when he pitched 8 2-3 scoreless innings and allowed only two hits a night after Albert Pujols hit three homers in a 16-7 Cardinals victory. Pujols is now in the same division as the Rangers, playing for the Los Angeles Angels, with Hamilton as a teammate.
Kinsler and Holland both like the atmosphere at Busch Stadium and look forward to playing there again. Still, it will be hard to avoid thinking about how different things could have been.
"I'm sure it probably will once we get closer to the game time and stuff, but overall, I don't think about it," Holland said. "Obviously it's going to hit people, but we're not really going to think too much about it. There's nothing we can do. We had a great series against them and hopefully we'll have another great series against them this time."