Tag:Victor Martinez
Posted on: February 16, 2012 9:37 pm
 

Inge to compete for Tigers' 2B job

Brandon IngeBy C. Trent Rosecrans

With Miguel Cabrera supposedly taking over at third base, Detroit's Brandon Inge is out of a job.

So, Inge is doing what people do when they get ousted from their job -- they look for a new one. In Inge's case, it's at second base. The Tigers may have two first basemen (and a third when Victor Martinez returns in 2013), but they don't have a proven starter at second base. Going into camp, Ramon Santiago and Ryan Raburn were expected to platoon at second.

Inge, 34, has started 924 career games at third base, none at second. He's also played all three outfield spots and started his career as a catcher.

An All-Star in 2009, Inge hit just .197/.265/.283 with three home runs last season. In parts of 11 seasons, he's hit .235/.305/.388.

"I'm going to play the best team, though. If you're the best second baseman and can produce, that's the way it is," Tigers manager Jim Leyland told reporters on Thursday, including the Detroit News' Tom Gage. "I think it's good. It burt Brandon's bubble a little bit when [the Tigers moved Miguel Cabrera to third], but he thought about it and said, 'You know what? Maybe I can [adjust].' And if he's the best player, I'll play him."

Santiago, a switch hitter, started 40 games at second last season, playing 75 at the position. He hit .260/.311/.384 with five homers.

Raburn played seven different spots last season (DH and all the defensive spots other than catcher, pitcher and shortstop), starting 55 games at second base. He hit .256/.297/.432 with 14 home runs.

Inge is in the second year of a two-year deal and is still owed $6 million.

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Posted on: February 8, 2012 4:11 pm
 

Spring position battle: American League Central



By C. Trent Rosecrans


Gearing up for spring training, we're headed east -- -but not too far east, just east from west, or in other words, to the Central, starting in the American League and what positional battles will be fought in the American League Central this spring, continuing the spring position battles series.

Chicago White Sox
Closer: Matt Thornton vs. Jesse Crain vs. Addison Reed

With Sergio Santos in Toronto and Chris Sale headed to the rotation, the White Sox are once again looking for a closer. Thornton saved three games last season and Crain one, but both are more or less keeping the seat warm for Reed, the team's top (and perhaps only) prospect. Thornton, an All-Star in 2010, won the closer battle last season before blowing his first four save opportunities to start the season and he was ultimately replaced by Santos. Crain pitched well last season, but it's Reed that has a chance to be special.

Cleveland Indians
Fifth starter: Kevin Slowey vs. David Huff vs. Jeanmar Gomez vs. Zach McAllister

Ubaldo Jimenez is the team's opening-day starter followed by Justin Masterson, Derek Lowe and Josh Tomlin. The fifth spot is probably Slowey's to lose. The 27-year-old right-hander was twice traded this offseason, first to Colorado and then to Cleveland. While he struggled last season (0-8 with a 6.67 ERA in eight starts and 14 games), he's a proven back-of-the-rotation starter with a 39-29 record and 4.66 ERA. He's also familiar with the AL Central. Gomez made 10 starts for the Indians last season, as did Huff, the only lefty of the group. McAllister made four starts and wasn't overly impressive.

Detroit Tigers
Third base: Miguel Cabrera vs. third base

When the Tigers signed Prince Fielder, the stated plan was that Cabrera will move to third, leaving the DH spot for Victor Martinez -- who isn't playing this year. The Tigers, it appears, are trying to keep Cabrera from getting too big to play third in preparation for 2013 when they'll really have a logjam at the position with Fielder, Cabrera, Martinez and Delmon Young. For now, it seems like wishful thinking that Cabrera can play a passable third base. But if he can, it helps the team out -- especially defensively in the outfield with Young not trying to figure out what to do with that that thing on his left hand.

Kansas City Royals
Second base: Johnny Giavotella vs. Chris Getz vs. Yuniesky Betancourt

What you've heard is true -- there's a ton of talent in Kansas City. In fact, the lineup is nearly set, except for second base and center field. Center should be manned by Lorenzo Cain, who doesn't have a realistic competitor for the spot, but second could be a question. Giavotella came up in 2011 to middling results - .247/.273/.376 with two homers and five stolen bases in 187 plate appearances, but he has a chance to take the position if he can play at the level he established in the minors, where he was a .305/.375/.437 hitter since being taken in the second round of the 2008 draft. While just 5-foot-8, he has shown the ability to make contract (striking out no more than 67 times in any of his minor league seasons) and walk nearly as much as he strikes out (192 minor-league walks to 212 strikeouts). He's not the best defender, but he's adequate. Getz is nobody's idea of a long-term answer. He hit .255/.313/.287 last season, but plays good defense. And then there's Betancourt, who was signed not add depth. The former Royals shortstop will not and should not be pressuring light-hitting Alcides Escobar, but he could add some pop to the infield at second.

Minnesota Twins
Disabled list: Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau vs. the disabled list

No two players may be as essential to their team's success as Mauer and Morneau. The two made a combined $37 million last season -- more than the entire Royals team. And, by the way, Kansas City finished eight games ahead of the Twins in the AL Central. The Twins just barely avoided being a $100-million, 100-loss team, but it took a 1-0 victory over the Royals on the last season to do it. Mauer played in 82 games, while Morneau played in just 69, with the two combining to hit seven home runs between them. Morneau's never seemed to fully recover from the concussion he suffered in July of 2010 and Mauer's had a variety of injuries, missing games with a leg injury, as well as lower back stiffness, a bruised shoulder, neck stiffness and pneumonia. Both players will play first base and DH some to try to keep them healthy, but questions will continue until either plays a productive 130-game-or-so season.

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Posted on: February 1, 2012 7:57 am
Edited on: February 2, 2012 8:48 am
 

Baseball's worst contracts, Part I: IF/C



By Matt Snyder


This past weekend I posted a blog about Joe Mauer feeling healthy so far this offseason and in the comments section a small discussion about bad contracts broke out. So, I figured, why not sort through all the contracts in baseball and come up with some of the worst? We're still more than two weeks from pitchers and catchers reporting, but it would be shocking to see a free agent sign for a contract that would rank among the worst in baseball -- considering the players left unsigned. So the timing works well. Let's check it out and discuss, shall we? If there's one thing baseball fans love, it's arguing.

We'll go at this in three different parts. First (now) is infielders and catchers, Thursday we'll look at the outfielders and designated hitters while Friday is pitchers.

One last note before we proceed. The way baseball's salary structure is set up, the overwhelming majority of the players can't make big bucks -- relatively speaking, of course -- until they've been in the league for about three years. Then there is arbitration, so they aren't free agents for another few years. So, most of the time, the overpaid players were underpaid -- again, relatively speaking -- when they were young studs. So you could argue it evens out. And I would in many cases. I also don't begrudge any of them for making gobs of money to play a game. They have a special talent that people pay to watch. They deserve a huge cut. So let's just try to stay on topic here, OK? Great. Let's dive in.

Catcher

Worst: Joe Mauer, Twins
Remaining contract: 7 years, $161 million

Mauer is obviously coming off a disastrous season and should improve greatly in the next few years. That being said, his health issues throughout 2011 were a bit of a wakeup call on how bad that contract will likely prove to be. He has to remain behind the plate to be worth anywhere close to $23 million per season, and what are the chances that he stays productive and healthy as a full-time catcher for the next seven years? If he moves to first base, he's a well-below average power hitter at the position and that harms the offense as a whole. While Mauer is certainly a stand-up guy and a hometown hero, it's hard to see this contract coming close to paying off for Minnesota in the end.

Honorable Mention
Victor Martinez, Tigers: This one is mitigated by the fact that the Tigers have insurance (that will reportedly pay almost half), but he's still owed $38 million over the next three seasons. In fairness to the Tigers, though, this wasn't really a bad deal when signed. They didn't know he'd get badly hurt and they'd then sign Prince Fielder to a gargantuan contract. It's just that there aren't really any other bad catcher contracts. I'm even cheating by putting Martinez here because he's predominantly a DH. I just had to list someone here.

First Base

Worst: Ryan Howard, Phillies
Remaining contract: 5 years, $125 million

The achillies injury wasn't taken significantly into account because there's no way the Phillies knew that was coming. Still, this deal was signed in April of 2010 but is just now kicking in for the start of the 2012 season. We're talking about a guy who hit .253 and only had a .488 slugging percentage last season. Jose Reyes and Shane Victorino had higher marks in slugging, which is a power stat. The 33 home runs and 116 RBI look good, but Howard is set to make $25 million per season for the next five years. He also hit just .105 with a .263 slugging percentage in the 2011 NLDS, where the Phillies lost in five games to the Cardinals due predominantly to a lack of offense. When Howard is 36 and making $25 million, it'll be an albatross of a contract.

Honorable Mention
Albert Pujols, Angels: It's actually a huge bargain for the next two seasons, when Pujols will make a combined $28 million, but by the time you get to age 42 and $30 million per year, it's pretty rough. The Angels are counting on having already made their money by then. And they very well might do so, which is why he's only in "honorable mention." We'll see.

Prince Fielder, Tigers: Similar to Pujols, the nine-year, $214 million deal doesn't look bad until several years down the road. We'll see, part two.

Mark Teixeira, Yankees: Teixiera is similar to Howard in several ways. He is actually coming off back-to-back seasons of sub-.500 slugging percentages (Howard was only below in '11) while getting most of his value from home runs and RBI, the latter of which is a team stat. The difference is Teixeira is a great defender and is owed slightly less ($115 million and change in five years). And he is completely healthy, which bodes better in his chances to right the ship these next few years.

Second Base

Worst: Dan Uggla
Remaining contract: 4 years, $52.8 million

Uggla salvaged what could have been an awful 2011 season by getting insanely hot in the second half. He ended with a career-high 36 homers, but that's about all that looks good, on the whole. He hit .233/.311/.453 with 156 strikeouts, poor defense and a career-low 22 doubles. He'll be 35 in the final year of his contract.

Honorable Mention
Chase Utley, Phillies: Past performance means he's probably earned this, but $30.575 million for the next two seasons seems awfully high for a 33-year-old coming off a .259/.344/.425 season.

Brian Roberts, Orioles: Let's just hope he finds a way to recover from all the post-concussion symptoms for the sake of his quality of life. The Orioles have far bigger problems than the $20 million Roberts will make the next two seasons.

Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Twins: OK, so $6 million for two seasons isn't much money to any team in the majors, but Nishioka was probably the worst position player in baseball last year and it's hard to see any improvement.

Shortstop

Worst: Jose Reyes, Marlins
Remaining contract: 6 years, $106 million

I don't think this was an awful signing at all, from a certain point of view. The Marlins wanted to make a splash and Reyes is the type of player that can single-handedly energize an entire lineup ... when he's in it. Yep, there's that qualifier and that's why he's here. Leg injuries -- on a player who relies on speed -- have limited Reyes to 295 games the past three seasons. Can he stay healthy for the next six? That's a tall order. Again, though, I don't think this one is egregious, and it's possible he ends up well worth the money. It's just that there aren't many bad contracts at shortstop and this represents a huge risk.

Honorable Mention
Derek Jeter, Yankees: What he means to the franchise -- in addition to how much money the Yankees can afford to spend -- says this deal isn't hurting anyone at all. But if you look at what he's likely to provide in the next two seasons, there's no way it's worth the $33 million Jeter is owed. Again, though, Jeter has earned the "pension," if you will, by this point in his legendary career.

Third Base

Worst: Alex Rodriguez, Yankees
Remaining contract: 6 years, $149 million

If A-Rod hit the free agent market right now, what would he get ... half that contract? He's 36, he hasn't played in more than 138 games since 2007 and is coming off a season where he hit .276/.362/.461. I have no doubt if he stays healthy he has another two or even three great seasons left in him, but he's set to make at least $20 million during the season in which he turns 42.

Also, there are marketing bonuses in the contract for several home-run milestones from A-Rod's 660th to 763rd home runs (he currently has 629). It's probably not worth getting into in this space, because if A-Rod actually breaks the home run record, the Yankees will be rolling in the promotional dough from the event(s) and aftermath.

Honorable Mention
Brandon Inge, Tigers: When the Tigers signed Fielder and announced Miguel Cabrera was moving to third base, it made Inge a $5.5-million backup for the 2012 season.

On the other hand ...

Evan Longoria, Rays: Even if the Rays pick up all their club options on Longoria -- which they surely will, barring major injury -- the All-Star third baseman is only owed $40.5 million over the next five seasons. He's only 26 years old and already has two Gold Gloves, 113 career homers, an .874 career OPS and three postseason appearances in just four seasons. He's received MVP votes in all four of his seasons at the majors. He'll make $4.5 million in 2012 while A-Rod will make $29 million. Now that is a club-friendly contract, one that is surely the envy of general managers -- and certainly owners -- across the league.

Next

Thursday: OF/DH

Friday: Pitchers

Source for all figures was Cot's Baseball Contracts

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Posted on: January 24, 2012 4:40 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 5:59 pm
 

Prince adds new look to Tigers' lineup



By C. Trent Rosecrans


Last week we all wondered how the Tigers would replace the injured Victor Martinez in the lineup -- today we got our answer.

Prince Fielder immediately restores some roar to the Tiger lineup and makes a nice 3-4 combo with Miguel Cabrera, forming perhaps the most feared duo in baseball. And in 2013 you have a 3-4-5 of Cabrera, Fielder and Martinez -- all for the low, low price of $346.5 million (or $69.3 million pizzas from Little Ceaser's) for all three over the course of their contracts.

So, if Fielder signing with the Tigers is the biggest surprise of the day, how about this for the second-biggest shock? The move means Miguel Cabrera is likely headed back to third base. Yep, the bad defensive first baseman will now be a horrendous defensive third baseman (much to the chagrin of Justin Verlander, Doug Fister and Co.).

That means the rumors of the Johnny Damon return to Detroit make a little more sense, with the Tigers no longer needing a slugging DH. For now, though, I'll make my lineup with Don Kelly as the DH, knowing that the Tigers could still add a stopgap DH type, like Damon.

Prince to Tigers
Here's a too-early, first-stab at the new Tiger lineup:
1. Austin Jackson CF
2. Brennan Boesch RF
3. Miguel Cabrera 3B
4. Prince Fielder 1B
5. Delmon Young LF
6. Don Kelly DH
7. Jhonny Peralta SS
8. Alex Avila C
9. Ryan Raburn 2B

This, of course, could change at a moment's notice, but it also keeps the door open for a seemless transition when Martinez returns from his knee injury. Or the Tigers could realize that Cabrera at third base is a terrible idea and then they'll be overloaded with first basemen and designated hitters. Whatever happens, Mike Illitch is going to be signing some big checks and Verlander should have more run support.

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Posted on: December 17, 2011 5:55 pm
 

Homegrown Team: Cleveland Indians

Victor Martinez

By C. Trent Rosecrans


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no minor or major league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. To view the schedule/past entries of this feature, click here.

In the 90s, the Indians welcomed a new ballpark with a cast of homegrown talent and twice used that to go all the way to the World Series, losing to the Braves in 1995 and the Marlins in 1997. A core of Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, Albert Belle, Charles Nagy, Paul Shuey, Jaret Wright, Julian Tavarez and more helped that Cleveland team become a power in the middle part of the decade before the pieces moved on. Thome went to Philadelphia, Ramirez to Boston and others dispersed or saw their skills diminish as the window of opportunity passed. The current Indians saw the start of a new influx of talent in 2011 with the likes of Jason Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall, but more talent needs to come out of the system for the Indians to continue the promise of the first half of the 2011 season. The franchise has shown smart drafting and good development can get them to October baseball, and that it's the best way for a team of their means to get there -- and return.

Lineup

1. Jason Kipnis, 2B
2. Marco Scutaro, SS
3. Victor Martinez, C
4. Jim Thome, DH
5. Jhonny Peralta, 1B
6. Luke Scott, LF
7. Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B
8. Ben Francisco, RF
9. Jose Constanza, CF

Starting Rotation

1. CC Sabathia
2. Fausto Carmona
3. Jeremy Guthrie
4. Bartolo Colon
5. Josh Tomlin

Bullpen

Closer - Vinnie Pestano
Set up - Tony Sipp, Aaron Laffey, Danys Baez, Edward Mujica, Rafael Perez, Brian Tallet

Notable Bench Players

There are some bit pieces, but not too much overwhelming talent coming off the bench. The best pieces are Maicer Izturis, Kevin Kouzmanoff and Russell Branyan.

What's Good?

This team could put up some runs, with a heart of the order featuring Martinez, Thome, Peralta and Scott, that's for sure. You've also got Sabathia leading the staff, and as the Yankees showed this past season, that can be enough to win the toughest division in baseball. Carmona is inconsistent, but still has a live arm, while Guthrie could thrive in a new environment and Colon proved he still has a little something in the tank during his 2011 season in New York. 

What's Not?

Even if this Indians staff is a slight bump up from the Yankees' of 2011, the bullpen is a step down -- and the bullpen was one of the big reasons New York was able to win with a rotation featuring Sabathia and prayers for rain. The bench here is also thin.

Comparison to real 2011

The Indians were one of the feel-good stories for much of 2011, leading the American League Central for most of the first half of the season before fading and finishing the season 80-82. This hypothetical team has a better offense, better starting pitching and a worse bullpen. It's in no way a complete team, but it would have a chance at a winning record. The Tigers finished 95-67, well ahead of anyone else in the division. No, this Cleveland team wouldn't challenge the Tigers, but it would likely be better than the real 2011 Indians.

Next: Miami Marlins

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Posted on: October 15, 2011 11:41 pm
Edited on: October 16, 2011 2:06 am
 

Anatomy of a loss: How Detroit fell in ALCS

Cabrera, Napoli

AnatomyBy Evan Brunell


ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Tigers had a massive implosion by Max Scherzer ruin Game 6, and as a result, their season is over as the Rangers advance to the World Series.

Let's take a look at the anatomy of the Tigers' series loss...

1. HEAD: Throughout the series, Detroit talked about taking it one game at a time, battling back from adversity, doing what it could to win each and every contest and not worrying about the past. All that is great, but actions speak louder than words, and the Tigers were horribly demoralized after Game 4's shocking extra-inning loss. In fact, after every loss, malaise filled the Tigers' clubhouse, and how could it not? The team gave its all and every game save the last was close. Every Tiger loss outside of Game 6 came either by a single run, or in extra innings. It was the narrowest of margins ... but they were losses all the same. That wears on you, and even winning Game 5 couldn't wash away all the stink once the series shifted back to Texas.

2. ARM: The Tigers couldn't ride their starting pitching to the promised land, despite entering the series with arguably three aces. Of course, there's Verlander fronting the rotation, but he didn't pitch like an ace in the ALCS. His start in Game 1 was cut short by rain, but by his own admission, his mechanics weren't quite right to start the game, and he ended up giving up three runs in four innings. People like to follow the narrative of Verlander as a great pitcher, but he still coughed up four runs total in 7 1/3 innings in Game 5. As for the other starting pitchers, Max Scherzer was fantastic in Game 2, but gave up a run in the seventh to allow the Rangers to tie, and eventually win, the game... and then, of course, he completely fell apart in Game 6. Doug Fister pitched brilliantly in Game 3, Detroit's first victory. In Game 4, Rick Porcello also turned in an incredible effort, but imploded at the wrong time. Even the bullpen was lacking aside from the heroics of Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde, and Valverde got burned in Game 4.

3. OBLIQUE: The Tigers had two instances of obliques hurting the team. First, Delmon Young was left off the ALCS roster entirely due to suffering an injured oblique in ALDS Game 5 against the Yankees. However, the Tigers lucked into Young improving to the point he was able to replace Magglio Ordonez on the roster when Ordonez needed to be removed due to a fractured ankle. Young played in Games 2, 4 and 5, but racked up a 0-for-9 streak, the most at-bats of any player in the series without a hit. He snapped that distinction with two pivotal homers in Game 5, but it proved to be too late for Detroit to win out in the series.

In addition, Victor Martinez hammered a crucial home run in Game 3 to pace the Tigers to victory, but pulled his oblique in the process. The next at-bat, he didn't even offer at one pitch or take swings in the on-deck circle, so you knew he was hurting. He looked stiff and sore in Game 4, so the Tigers lost two of their most important offensive pieces thanks to the oblique injury, which has ravaged baseball all season.


ALCS Coverage
4. LEGS: At this point, I feel guilty for bringing this up for what is probably the billionth time, but I'm still incredulous at the decisions that the Tigers made in Game 4 with regard to baserunning. There are two particular situations that got me. The first was in the bottom eighth after the Rangers tied the game. Miguel Cabrera is on third base with one out. Delmon Young lofts a fly ball to right field, inhabited by Nelson Cruz who is a fine fielder with a rifle for an arm. Cabrera was sent home and was out by a mile. After the game, Jim Leyland said that if the throw was off-line, Cabrera scores. That's a cop-out -- that throw would have had to be incredibly off-line to the point where anyone could have scored. Even a five-hopper would have been enough to tag Cabrera out. It was a dumb move. Period.

In the bottom of the 10th, Austin Jackson stood on first base with one out. Improbably, he opted to steal second base and was gunned down by Mike Napoli. Leyland said he supported the decision -- which Jackson made on his own -- but he better just be covering for his player because that was another bone-headed move. With the throw out, the Tigers removed a man on base and the chance for Miguel Cabrera to hit that inning. Instead, Miggy watched as Ryan Raburn made the third out, then the Rangers put up a four-spot in the top of the 11th.

5. FOOT: Losing Magglio Ordonez was a brutal blow for Detroit, when he re-fractured his surgically-repaired foot in Game 1. Already hobbled due to Young's injury, losing Ordonez severely depleted the Tigers' offense to the point where it was, frankly, a non-entity aside from Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez in the 3-4 spots. There's no telling what Ordonez could have done after hitting .365 after Aug. 12 in the regular season and .455 in the ALDS.

Related video: Tigers manager Jim Leyland speaks on the crushing Game 6 loss:



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Base photo: Wikipedia

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.

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Posted on: October 11, 2011 11:59 pm
Edited on: October 12, 2011 1:40 am
 

Beltre, Martinez show Red Sox what they lost

Beltre

By Evan Brunell


DETROIT -- Adrian Beltre and Victor Martinez, dueling against each other in the ALCS, were teammates on the Red Sox last season and helped foster a healthy clubhouse with their leadership, which the Rangers and Tigers, respectively, have raved about. On Tuesday night, each displayed just what might have been missing on the Red Sox this season.

Tigers-Rangers
Beltre came to the plate with one out in the fourth inning and took a massive hack against Doug Fister, fouling a ball off his left knee. He collapsed to the ground, and just like Nelson Cruz's hit-by-pitch off the wrist in Game 2, sent fear in the heart of Ranger Nation. Given Beltre's reaction, it would have been completely understandable for him to bail out of the game. But the third-baseman was having none of it, holding off the trainer and continuing the at-bat, despite clearly being hampered by the injury. He grounded out, hobbling to first base all the while. (X-rays following the game were negative.) Certainly, in the regular season with nothing on the line, Beltre likely would have been taken out -- but this is October, after all, and Beltre's never been a player that lets injuries stand in his way. This is a man who once fractured his testicle, for crying out loud ... and kept playing.

So no, Beltre wasn't coming out.

Then, in the bottom fourth, it was his ex-teammate's turn to show some fortitude. Martinez stepped to the plate with the Tigers down 1-0 and the crowd increasingly demoralized... and rocketed a home run to left field. Bedlam from the crowd, but Martinez instantly grimaced and stumbled toward the ground before gingerly running around the bases. This was a huge homer for Detroit, and all that happened was a casual fist-bump by Don Kelly in the on-deck circle, and then a somber reception in the dugout without the usual high-fives. Martinez immediately slammed his helmet before disappearing into the clubhouse tunnel, and it looked as if V-Mart may have fallen victim to an intercostal muscle strain.

Fast-forward to the bottom of the fifth. Miguel Cabrera at the plate with runners in scoring position, a situation the Tigers have struggled through all postseason. The TV cameras showed Martinez speaking to Leyland in the dugout, clearly not right. However, he headed to the on-deck circle with many theorizing that this was a fake-out to make the Rangers think V-Mart was going to hit and perhaps make an incorrect pitching coach before Martinez was pinch-hit for. That feeling was only furthered more when he didn't take any swings and watched Miggy blast a RBI double. And yet, Martinez stayed in the game. (CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler says Martinez is expected to play in Game 4 as well... surprise, surprise.) He didn't swing once in the at-bat, but worked a walk. You could tell that there was absolutely no way that Martinez was coming out of the game. This is a man who told reporters on Sept. 28 after injuring his big toe, "You're going to have to kill me to keep me out of the lineup." And after Game 3? "I will play tomorrow unless I am dead when I wake up."

So no, Martinez wasn't coming out.

On a night where the Red Sox's epic collapse may have claimed it's biggest victim yet in GM Theo Epstein, two players he allowed to leave in free agency showed on baseball's brightest stage the perseverance strangely lacking in Boston this season. And perhaps that's why the Red Sox are sitting at home with Red Sox Nation crumbling.

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