Tag:Evan Brunell
Posted on: October 15, 2011 9:37 pm
 

Holland rattled to start, but Scherzer implodes

Holland

By Evan Brunell


ARLINGTON, Texas -- Derek Holland didn't get the game off to a very good start for the Rangers, with an amped-up crowd being stunned into silence when Miguel Cabrera went opposite-field in the first inning to put Detroit up 1-0 on a solo blast.

That hit was Cabrera's 13th straight in a LCS game in what is also his 13th career LCS game, so he's tied Greg Luzinski for the record to start an LCS career. Holland seemed cautious in the beginning to challenge hitters, leaving a fastball away right there for Cabrera to muscle up. In the second inning, Johnny Peralta also took an away fastball from Holland and deposited it in the left-field seats to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead and seemingly take the crowd out of the game before it even really started.

Lucky for Texas that Max Scherzer completely imploded, then. Scherzer was inconsistent to start the game but was pitching out of trouble... until the third inning. The righty induced Ian Kinsler into a grounder to start the inning, also the last out he would record in the game. The rest of his outing went as such: Four-pitch walk to Elvis Andrus (!?), single, double, single, walk, walk. Scherzer then departed the game with the bases loaded and three runs in, giving lefty Daniel Schlereth the honor of his first LCS appearance coming with the bases juiced. He couldn't come through, coughing up a two-run single to David Murphy and making the score 5-2, all runs debited to Scherzer.

Manager Jim Leyland quickly moved on from Schlereth, moving on to Rick Porcello to stem the bleeding. But Porcello couldn't, and Scherzer's outing concluded having given up six earned runs in 2 1/3 innings, walking four and striking out just one, allowing five hits. All in all, horrible. Horrible, horrible. And the Rangers just wouldn't stop, racking up a 9-2 score by inning's end.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: October 14, 2011 11:13 am
Edited on: October 14, 2011 11:48 am
 

Red Sox must fetch strong price for Theo Epstein

By Evan Brunell

With the departure of Theo Epstein, the Red Sox are faced with the most glaring void their organization has seen since the beginning of the franchise's recent upswing. And worse, it appears the only return they may get would be a paltry sum of cash or a couple of low-end players. And, even if those guys do contribute at the major-league level, they would be far from making up for the loss of a top-tier GM like Epstein.

Part of this reason, beyond the Cubs understandably balking at an exorbitant price -- they are trying to do their job, after all -- is that MLB is watching these discussions with a close eye, realizing that what occurs could set a precedent down the line for other similar GM defections. It appears as if baseball is trying to prevent GMs from being "traded" for anything close to free market value. Even managers have a difficult time of it, but at least there is precedent there, what with Ozzie Guillen shipped to the Marlins for three minor-league players and Lou Piniella going from Seattle to Tampa Bay for Randy Winn.

What is the problem here?

Why is baseball trying to prevent adequate compensation for Epstein? Moreover, why is it so bad for managers and GMs to be traded for equal value in return?

General managers have an incredible amount of responsibility on their shoulders and are forced to wear many hats. Not only do they have to juggle putting together a major-league team worthy of satisfying the fans and owners, they have to keep the farm system healthy, draft a new crop of players each season, negotiate contracts with players, coaches and scouts, maintain a budget and retain enough flexibility for future moves, and on and on. There's no question that a GM, these days, essentially shapes a franchise's present and future like no other person can, with lasting ramifications that can span years, if not decades.

And you're telling me that a GM can't be traded for an exorbitant price? Baseball may want to hold down GM compensation because it would add yet another layer of complexity to the proceedings, but is there any reason the Red Sox shouldn't be getting someone of commensurate value? Epstein not only completely and wholly changed the culture of the history of the Red Sox, he changed their status, market and player development. The boy wonder's accomplishments in Boston will bear fruit years after he's gone, and years after his successor, Ben Cherington, will be gone.

And somehow, accepting a reported $3.5 million or a couple tepid minor-league prospects is adequate compensation?

Cubs/Red Sox drama
Imagine, for a moment, if you transformed Epstein into a player on the Red Sox Who would he be? Would he be backup outfielder Darnell McDonald? Or would he be first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, who will pull down an average annual salary north of $20 million?

Epstein's value is certainly far closer to Gonzalez than that of McDonald, and Sox president Larry Lucchino appears to understand that. He's submitted a list of players to the Cubs that he feels would be adequate compensation for Epstein's departure, and the latest reports have the Cubs blanching at the price.

But that's as it should be, and MLB shouldn't interfere and meddle with the affairs. By baseball trying to restrict compensation from Epstein, it's restricting a free trade market and is severely hampering Boston's ability to contend. And this is an issue that should be of concern not just in Boston, but in all 30 MLB cities. Paul DePodesta had the right idea back in 2003 when he asked for Red Sox prospect Kevin Youkilis in exchange for allowing GM Billy Beane to defect to the Red Sox before Beane changed his mind at the 11th hour.

Whether baseball likes it or not, the culture is slowly but surely marching toward a day where a GM's departure to another club will result in fair compensation, not a depressed price. Unfortunately for Boston, that day may not arrive in time to compensate for the man who changed baseball in Boston.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 13, 2011 11:32 pm
Edited on: October 15, 2011 4:05 pm
 

ALCS Game 6: Can Holland bounce back to win ALCS?

Scherzer, Holland

By Evan Brunell

Tigers at Rangers, 8:05 p.m. ET, October 15, Rangers Ballpark. Rangers lead series 3-2.

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Well, maybe this series isn't over just yet.

Staring at elimination, Detroit bounced back with nothing short of a huge game on Thursday, taking the final game in Detroit by a score of 7-5.

Detroit rode a four-run sixth inning to victory behind the phenomenal arm of Justin Verlander and two home runs by Delmon Young, who has gotten press all ALCS for his injuries and nothing he's done on the field. Well, he's done plenty now, and with pitching matchups appearing to favor the Tigers in the final two games, this is anyone's series.

WHO HAS THE EDGE?


Unfortunately for Texas, their best pitcher is done for the series (although C.J. Wilson didn't exactly perform up to snuff in Game 5.)

Offensively, the Rangers still clearly hold the edge, but Detroit showed they don't have an offense as bad as the Mariners in Game 5, and Ryan Raburn has been rather impressive filling in for both Young and Magglio Ordonez when they were affected with injuries. Defensively and on the basepaths, the Rangers have the obvious edge. But what it really comes down to is pitching and at this point, no one can deny Detroit has the edge here.

Tigers' Max Scherzer: Scherzer has had an impressive postseason thus far, giving up just five runs in 13 1/2 innings across two starts and one relief appearance. Scherzer's only ALCS outing to this date came in Game 2, the game where Nelson Cruz made history with a walkoff grand slam.

In that outing, Scherzer was chugging along until the seventh after an inconsistent start to the game, an inning he probably shouldn't have come out for. He gave up a Cruz homer to lead off the inning and then was immediately yanked. With Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde both receiving two full days off, Leyland shouldn't have to ride Scherzer hard.

"Scherzer, what an arm," Rangers manager Ron Washington raved prior to the righty's first start. "It's unorthodox, doesn't throw anything straight, and for some reason when he faces us, he finds the strike zone with more consistency with all his pitches."

Scherzer has been particularly hot since the All-Star break and at this point should be considered a No. 2 starter. He made three starts against the Rangers in 2011, posting a 4.76 ERA in 17 innings, striking out 12 and walking four, with the team winning two games. Cruz has two homers off Scherzer in his career and is hitting .333 while Michael Young has three extra-base hits against Scherzer, but only four hits in 21 plate appearances. Aside from Cruz, no one has really keyed into Scherzer yet.

Rangers' Derek Holland: Holland, like Scherzer, enjoyed a nice run in the latter half of the 2011 regular season, but inconsistency still plagues him significantly as his Game 2 start opposite Scherzer showed. Holland actually had a shaky start to the postseason in Game 2 of the ALDS but recovered to win the game. He also impressed in relief in Game 4, but the wheels completely fell off against Detroit in Game 2 of the ALCS.

Holland gave up four hits and three runs in just 2 2/3 innings, with Scott Feldman manning up and blanking the Tigers for 4 1/3 innings, setting up the stage for Cruz's heroics. You can bet that Feldman will be ready to go at a moment's notice should Holland fail. In addition, you can also bet that Washington won't mess around and leave Holland in the game and try to extend his outing if it's clearly not working. At this point, in a Game 6, you don't take chances.

Holland's start in the ALCS against Texas is the only time he's faced the club in 2011. That's obviously in Detroit's favor but add in Delmon Young being in the lineup, and one has to seriously consider the fact the Tigers might not just be "slightly" favored in this game... but heavily favored. Reading too much into small sample sizes is not recommended, but Young has six hits in 12 at-bats against Holland over his career, so he obviously has something working against the lefty.

LINEUPS

Tigers Rangers
No. Name Pos No. Name Pos
1 Austin Jackson CF 1 Ian Kinsler 2B
2 Ryan Raburn RF 2 Elvis Andrus SS
3 Miguel Cabrera 1B 3 Josh Hamilton CF
4 Victor Martinez DH 4 Michael Young 1B
5 Delmon Young LF 5 Adrian Beltre 3B
6 Jhonny Peralta SS 6 Mike Napoli C
7 Alex Avila C 7 Nelson Cruz RF
8 Brandon Inge 3B 8 David Murphy DH
9 Ramon Santiago 2B 9 Endy Chavez LF

Max Scherzer RHP
Derek Holland LHP

NOTES

  • Weather complicated each game in Texas earlier this series. Game 1 had two rain delays, while Game 2 was postponed a day due to inclement weather. Well, good news. We're back to a normal Texas drought for Game 6, with 80-degree weather during the day and nighttime climbing into the 70s with no precipitation expected.
  • Miguel Cabrera extended his LCS hitting streak to 12 games to start his career, one shy of Greg Luzinski for the record.
  • Nelson Cruz's five home runs so far in the LCS is tied for the LCS record, while his 11 RBI is tied with David Ortiz and B.J. Upton for the top spot. He already has 11 postseason home runs in his career over two seasons. I mean... come on.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 13, 2011 9:02 pm
Edited on: October 13, 2011 11:53 pm
 

Wilson gives up three homers as Rangers fall

Wilson

By Evan Brunell


DETROIT -- Unlike the battle of aces to open up Game 1 of the ALCS, this time around, C.J. Wilson wasn't able to come up with a victory against Justin Verlander.

The big play that changed the tone of the game was a Miguel Cabrera double that clipped off the third-base bag, scoring Ryan Raburn from first base with the go-ahead run. It was all downhill from there.

"Literally a bad bounce," Wilson said after the game, but he refused to pass the buck to the third-base bag, which skipper Jim Leyland says will one day rest in his memorabilia room.  "A bad bounce's a bad bounce, you can't control something after it happens. I can't go make the base move."

ALCS Coverage
"Even with that play, it's 3-2," Wilson added. "We're still in the game. I didn't make the right pitches to get out of the inning."

That's certainly true, as he gave up a triple to Victor Martinez next, followed by the big blow that all but iced the game for the Tigers in Delmon Young's second homer of the game putting Detroit up 6-2. All of a sudden, a Tigers offense that had been quiet all series and lacked that one big hit to put them over the hump seemed to do no wrong.

"My job is to get those guys out and I got 2 strikes on Victor and threw a pitch that was up just enough that he could hit it down the line," Wilson said of the triple that plated Cabrera with the team's fourth run. 'It was a pitch where I didn't intend to throw it."

Wilson couldn't say the same thing about Young's homer that traveled 393 feet and sent the Tigers crowd into delirium.

"It wasn't even a strike," Wilson mused about the 89-mph cutter he delivered that was up out of the strike zone, but over the plate. "It was a chase pitch and he kept it fair. Looking back, obviously it was the wrong pitch. It was a very painful lesson for me."

All told, Wilson gave up three home runs in the game, which gives him six homers allowed the entire postseason. He gave up just 16 in the regular season, and that's an even more impressive mark considering Wilson pitches his home games in Arlington, Texas where the ball can fly out like a missile during the hot days of summer. When asked what the difference has been, Wilson pondered the question for a while before giving up.

"I've made a couple mistakes," he admitted, "but I can't really put my finger on one particular thing. It's not like they're all one pitch or one spot."

Now, the series is headed back to Texas. The Rangers may still be in pole position given they have to win just one game while the Tigers have two more to go, but at this point, it's really anyone's game. The series has been so close, with both teams so evenly matched, it's truly incredible what an amazing ALCS we have witnessed so far. It's all that much more impressive when you see just how banged up both teams are, and how both teams have had to struggle with inclement weather affecting the outcome of three games. Even Game 5 was threatened when rain started falling near the end as a storm approached.

Wilson unsurprisingly refused to allow injuries or rain to serve as an excuse, pointing out that the Tigers are struggling, too.

"Everyone's going through it. Their guys are banged up, our guys are banged up," he said. "This is baseball. This isn't basketball. We don't have a wood court, a roof every game."

Indeed, it's baseball, and it's been a great thing to watch. Now we get to watch another game on Saturday.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.


Posted on: October 13, 2011 7:43 pm
Edited on: October 13, 2011 9:06 pm
 

Tigers take four-run sixth to victory in Game 5

Verlander

By Evan Brunell


DETROIT -- The Tigers stunned the Rangers with an offensive explosion in the bottom of the sixth to force the series back to Texas, winning 7-5. The Rangers still lead the series, 3-2.

Hero: Justin Verlander didn't have a very Verlander-ish start, but he came up nails in a must-win game for Detroit. The righty gutted through 133 pitches over 7 1/3 innings, allowing eight hits and three walks. His final line was marred by a two-run homer in the eighth. He pitched out of trouble constantly, though, adding eight strikeouts to his ledger and getting the Tigers to the ninth inning. While Detroit was unable to go with Joaquin Benoit or Jose Valverde in relief, the Tigers were cushioned by a five-run lead once Ryan Raburn chipped in a solo homer in the seventh. (Oh, I suppose Delmon Young bashing two homers was pretty heroic, too.)


Goat
:
The Rangers could be celebrating right now, and they might have been if Ian Kinsler wasn't so hack-happy. Verlander looked like he was on the verge of collapse in the top of the sixth, loading the bases by allowing a single, double and four-pitch walk to Mitch Moreland. There's no question Verlander was on the ropes, but Kinsler allowed him to get away scot-free by busting the first pitch down to third for a weak grounder that turned into a double-play.

ALCS Coverage
Kinsler said the answer as to why he swung at the first pitch was simple. "I got a pitch I wanted to swing at," he said. "I'm looking for a fastball. I'm looking for a good pitch." And he hit it for a double-play.

Turning point: In the bottom of the sixth inning, Ryan Raburn opened the inning by rifling a single. Miguel Cabrera followed with what should have been a routine groundout down the line, but Adrian Beltre was playing behind the bag and watched the ball sail over his head after clipping off the base. Raburn came around to score the go-ahead run and things completely imploded from there.


It was over when... Delmon Young stepped to the plate with Detroit having taken a 4-2 lead. Young immediately drove a stake into the hearts of the Rangers by blasting his second homer of the game, a two-run shot that put Detroit ahead 6-2.

Next: After four straight days of games, both teams will get a breather with an off-day on Friday. Game 6 will be played at 8:05 p.m. ET on Saturday, with Max Scherzer going for Detroit. The Rangers will counter with lefty Derek Holland, who was bombed in Game 2.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 13, 2011 5:23 pm
 

Deflated Tigers bounce back on Avila solo shot

Kinsler

By Evan Brunell


DETROIT -- Even with Justin Verlander pitching, Tigers fans didn't seem to believe their team could win out on and prevent a joyous celebration from the Rangers from happening on their field. There's no other explanation for the wide swaths of empty seats that were in place at the start of the game, and it appeared as if fans may have made the smart move early on.

Ian Kinsler (pictured) immediately deflated whatever optimism there was remaining in Motown when he smacked a double to lead off the game, eventually coming home on a Josh Hamilton fly ball to put Detroit in a 1-0 hole. After allowing a Michael Young double, Verlander immediately settled down by striking out three of the next eight batters, with three additional batters fouling out. That's a dominant performance, even if it took time to get started.

Then, Alex Avila, he of the 1-for-17 batting line in the ALCS and hampered severely by injury to the point where manager Jim Leyland pointed out Avila was as banged up, if not more, than anyone else on the team, stepped to the plate. And boom. Solo shot into left field to send the crowd into a tizzy and indicate that maybe, just maybe, there was plenty of fight left in the Tigers squad after all.

Through three innings, Verlander and Wilson have identical pitching lines. Each has tossed three innings, allowed two hits and a run and struck out three while issuing no free passes.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 13, 2011 12:03 am
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Boston Red Sox

BostonBy Evan Brunell

Another season gone, another disappointment for 29 teams as one is immortalized forever. Let’s take a look back at 2011 and forward in Eye on Baseball’s R.I.P. series...

Team name: Boston Red Sox
Record: 90-72, 3rd place in AL East, 7 games back
Manager: Terry Francona
Best hitter: Jacoby Ellsbury -- .321/.376/.552, 46 2B, 32 HR, 39 SB
Best pitcher: Josh Beckett -- 13-7, 2.89 ERA, 193 IP, 52 BB, 175 K

2011 SEASON RECAP

Here's guessing you've heard plenty about the Red Sox's 2011 season, so let's be brief. After stumbling to a 2-10 start, the Sox rebounded to go 81-44 over a 122-game stretch, then things completely imploded in September as Boston fell out of the postseason entirely, losing the wild card on the final day of the regular season.

While clubhouse dysfunction has ruled the news lately, the Red Sox's problems went deeper than that, as lack of pitching was a major problem that completely fell apart in September. Daisuke Matsuzaka fell to Tommy John surgery early on, pressing Tim Wakefield into year-long duty. Injuries were also sustained by Josh Beckett and trade-deadline acquisition Erik Bedard. Kevin Youkilis played in just 10 games after August 17, and J.D. Drew was a vanishing act from July 20-Sept. 24.

2012 AUDIT

The Red Sox are a good team, chemistry issues aside. There isn't much wholesale changes to be done, although there are several items of importance the Red Sox will have to address. The club could be looking at vacancies in right field, shortstop, DH and closer, so Boston has its hands full. It will also have to address the back of the rotation. A busy offseason awaits, but the core of the team is intact.

FREE AGENTS

Erik Bedard, SP
J.D. Drew, RF
Conor Jackson, OF
Hideki Okajima, RP
David Ortiz, DH
Jonathan Papelbon
Trever Miller, RP
Marco Scutaro, SS ($5 million team option, $3 million player option)
Jason Varitek, C
Tim Wakefield, SP
Dan Wheeler, RP ($3 million team option).

OFFSEASON FOCUS
  • There's a ton of different directions the Red Sox could go, especially with a new GM and manager on the way, but one thing's for sure -- the Red Sox need to bring in a strong presence somewhere next year. Whether that's a new closer, a starting picher or right fielder, Boston can't afford to stay pat after the horrendous collapse it experienced in September. Some options include not signing Jonathan Papelbon and investing that money elsewhere, whether that be in C.J. Wilson or Yu Darvish for the rotation, or signing Jose Reyes to play shortstop, although that's an avenue fraught with risk.
  • While Papelbon hasn't seemed terribly interested in staying with Boston in the past, the team needs to bring him back if they can. Papelbon has proven he can handle the ninth inning in Boston and is the type of ferocious competitor the team needs to emphasize in the wake of a dysfunctional clubhouse. A fallback would be Ryan Madson. Boston could also save money and promote Daniel Bard to closer, but then it needs to invest in a setup man, and it will be much easier to find a closer than it will be a setup man.
  • It will be difficult for Boston to play on the trade market because of a lack of upper-minors depth, but the club should be discussing John Danks, Gavin Floyd and Carlos Quentin with the White Sox and try to find a fit for at least one of these players. In a perfect world, Danks would be a great fit for Boston and the White Sox may be more motivated to move him than Floyd given Danks is nearing free agency while Floyd has signed an extension.
  • If Quentin is a no-go, there aren't many right-field candidates on the free-agent market Boston might be interested in, but a flier on David DeJesus makes sense, thanks to having Ryan Kalish and Josh Reddick as insurance. Kalish or Reddick should win the backup outfield job. If the Sox could pull it off, a trade of Andre Ethier would be a nice get, but that addresses Boston's strengths, not weaknesses. Shouldn't the team be worrying the most about its pitching? The Red Sox need to come away this winter with a starter capable of being called a No. 3, whether via free agency or the trade market.
  • Speaking of Ortiz, bring him back. Look, Kevin Youkilis probably best belongs as a first baseman or DH, no doubt. But a pairing of Ortiz at DH and Youk at 3B is way better than anything the team could get by moving Youk to DH and looking for a third baseman, of which there wouldn't be much available. The team simply has to gameplan for Youk to miss 25-40 starts and deal with it. The only way this would work is if Youkilis was sent out for that coveted starting pitcher. The Marlins are on the hunt for one -- perhaps Youk for ex-Sox farmhand Anibal Sanchez?
  • Pick up Marco Scutaro's option. Scoot was on fire down the stretch and easily earned his $5 million club option. He can return as a shortstop, allowing the team to use Jed Lowrie as trade bait or insurance for Youk. Mike Aviles is also hanging around.
  • Trade John Lackey. It almost doesn't matter where. He's been a massive disappointment in Boston and is not the same pitcher he once was. His constant bad attitude isn't helping the club and he needs to be considered a sunk cost. A popular trade is moving him to the Giants for Barry Zito, and while that would be a better alternative to keeping Lackey, there has to be another option for the Red Sox than having to take Zito, right? OK, maybe not.
  • Allow Tim Wakefield and Jason Varitek to part. It will be tough for Wake and Sox fans alike not to have Wakefield around to try to get the all-time Red Sox record in wins, but Wakefield hasn't been a strong pitcher for sometime now and over the last few seasons has changed from a consummate team player to one who has increasingly gotten more selfish as retirement nears. Likewise, Varitek's impact on the team has dipped sharply. The two players departing would send a signal to the clubhouse that no one is safe and get more capable players in the fold. Wakefield's departure would also free up Alfredo Aceves to be the top option out of the bullpen to spot start.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 12, 2011 11:57 pm
Edited on: October 13, 2011 4:15 pm
 

ALCS Game 5: Tigers need Verlander to step up

Wilson, Verlander

By Evan Brunell

DETROIT --  Rangers at Tigers, 4:19 p.m. ET, October 13, Comerica Park. Rangers lead series 3-1.

The ALCS has surprisingly been very even through four games, despite Texas winning three of them. Twice, the Rangers have come away with the victory after requiring extra-innings to do so, while the other win, in Game 1, was by the narrowest of margins -- just one run. It's the third time this series that Nelson Cruz has banged home the winning run by a homer, and he is certainly the big story so far.

But it's not over for Detroit; not by a long shot. Any time a team can offer up a pitcher the caliber of Justin Verlander, there's going to be a game. Unfortunately for the Tigers, the Rangers get to counter with their own ace, C.J. Wilson.

WHO HAS THE EDGE?


Yep, Verlander is pitching and we're calling it even. That's because Verlander hasn't exactly impressed in October thus far, and the Tigers offense is far from potent. That makes a difficult combination heading up against Texas' ace and an overall stronger team. It's anyone's game, but for the Rangers to get to Verlander, the team will have to reverse its fortunes against the righty, as current Rangers have combined for a .211/.285/.314 line in 193 plate appearances over Verlander's career.

The most success by anyone has been at the hands of Adrian Beltre, who has 10 hits in 32 at-bats and three-extra base hits, but that only nets him a .755 OPS, which isn't exactly setting the world on fire. Josh Hamilton doesn't have much in the way of power against Verlander, but is hitting .308 in 15 plate appearances.

On the other side of the ledger, Wilson allowed four runs to the Tigers in 6 2/3 innings back on April 12 and two runs in 4 2/3 innings in Game 1 of the ALCS, walking five and striking out six. Of any batter with any appreciable experience against Wilson (and even that's stretching it -- you can't make judgments based on 25 PA), both Victor Martinez and Jhonny Peralta have struggled significantly. However, of those with two games worth of data against Wilson, Miguel Cabrera, Ramon Santiago, Wilson Betemit, Austin Jackson and Ryan Raburn have hit Wilson well, so it will be interesting to see if that trend continues.
ALCS Coverage

Rangers' C.J. Wilson: Wilson knows what it will take to take down the Tigers.

"The reality is we're playing against the best team in the American League right now besides ourselves," he said. "You're not going to roll over and stand there and swing and miss at everything. You have to make them work."

Wilson also mentioned how you can't focus on statistics in the postseason, which makes sense. As with any data, numbers don't mean much unless they come in a big enough sample size. Saying that player X was 2-for-7 against Wilson this season (which we went over above) doesn't work when there's only seven at-bats. There's too much noise there to accurately clean anything. "You have one bad game, one good game, it totally looks weird. At this point, none of us has that much experience."

Wilson, like Verlander, is trying to get into a rhythm and admitted that his final start of the regular season being cut short affected him. "It kind of put me in a little bit of a funk, I think, mentally," he said. "I wasn't sure if I should try to go out there and throw more innings or fight for more innings or what."

The bigger problem is weather. Rain complicated Games 1 and 3 and it could have a impact on Game 5. The lefty says that he has a different plan in place should rain affect the game, but refuses to share details.

Tigers' Justin Verlander: Verlander hasn't had a very good postseason so far. After an incredible regular season, the going's been tough for Verlander, and he has given up eight runs in 13 innings thus far, spread over three starts against the Yankees and Rangers. Verlander was knocked out after just four innings in Game 1, due to both ineffectiveness and two rain delays, and there was much speculation he could start Game 4. That didn't happen, and now Verlander will be making one of the biggest starts in his career, trying to stave off elimination.

Manager Jim Leyland admitted that Verlander is tired, but isn't that the case with anyone in the postseason. Heck, Leyland quipped that "I go from decaf to regular right about now."

"I think he's a little tired," Leyland said about Verlander. "That's why he's not pitching [Game 4]. I think he wants to pitch. I admire that. He wants the ball. But when I had a meeting with my coaches, we sat down and talked, we really truly believed that this is the best way to go because we think this is the best thing for Justin Verlander, and in turn, that means it's the best thing for the team."

Verlander brushed aside concerns that he was tired, believing the issue lies more in mechanics. "I feel like the first couple of starts, just not quite right," Verlander said, attributing some of his struggles to rain delays fouling up his starts. "But hey, I'm not making any excuses whatsoever. I have to go out there and pitch better than I have and really establish a rhythm from the get-go and maintain my feel throughout the game."

LINEUPS

Rangers Tigers
No. Name Pos No. Name Pos
1 Ian Kinsler 2B 1 Austin Jackson CF
2  Elvis Andrus SS 2 Ryan Raburn RF
3  Josh Hamilton CF 3  Miguel Cabrera 1B
4  Michael Young DH 4 Victor Martinez DH
5  Adrian Beltre  3B 5 Delmon Young LF
6  Mike Napoli  C 6 Johnny Peralta SS
7  Nelson Cruz  RF 7 Brandon Inge 3B
8  David Murphy  LF 8 Alex Avila C
9  Mitch Moreland  1B 9 Ramon Santiago 2B

C.J. Wilson LHP
Justin Verlander RHP

NOTES

  • Rain threatened the playing of Game 4 on Wednesday, and engineered a 2 hour and 13 minute delay. Game 5 is set for a 4:19 p.m. start, which was thought to be in danger with a thunderstorm on the way. Fortunately, that storm has been pushed back to 9 p.m. according to weather forecasts early Wednesday morning. There are expected to be light showers during the game, but that's playable. What bears watching is whether this thunderstom speeds up and hits the game during play. It will be the third time this October that Verlander has had a start potentially affected by inclement weather.
  • The Rangers bullpen has won each of the three games, allowing just two runs in 21 1/3 innings, striking out 20 and walking just five. They are the fifth team in LCS history to record at least three victories from the pen. One of these runs was allowed by Alexi Ogando in Game 4 against Brandon Inge, the first time Ogando has allowed a homer on an 0-2 pitch. Ogando has thrown 8 1/3 innings himself.
  • Miguel Cabrera extended his hitting streak in the ALCS to 11 games, and is now tied for second place all-time for the longest streak to begin a career in the ALCS. Roberto Alomar also had an 11-game hitting streak, and the record is held by Greg Luzinski.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.



 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com