Tag:ALCS
Posted on: October 15, 2011 11:40 pm
Edited on: October 16, 2011 1:20 am
 

Rangers ride offensive explosion to World Series

Napoli

By Evan Brunell

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers laughed all the way to victory on Saturday, demolishing the Tigers by a score of 15-5 to clinch the ALCS and advance to the World Series.

Hero: The Rangers offense has to be the hero here, as eight of nine starting position players reached base at least twice, and six did it by notching at least two hits. Oh, and the lone player that didn't reach base at least twice was Endy Chavez, who was pinch-hit for after just one at-bat. His replacement, Craig Gentry, collected two hits. That's just a stunning performance and a marker of not only just how bad Detroit's pitching was, but how incredibly potent the Rangers offense was. Eight different players scored, seven different players had a RBI. All told, the club notched
15 runs and reached base 25 times. Wow.


ALCS Coverage
Goat: Max Scherzer had been very impressive for the Tigers following the All-Star break, and equipped himself well in the postseason... until Game 6. Scherzer had absolutely nothing working for him and couldn't control the ball to save his life. He gave up four walks in 2 1/3 innings, also allowing five hits as he was scorched for six runs. There was absolutely nothing redeeming about Scherzer's start, and he was lucky enough to make it through the first two innings unscathed.

Turning point: The count was 2-2 on Nelson Cruz in the bottom of the third. The Rangers had already pushed across three runs to make the game 3-2 in favor of Texas, but obviously it was still a tight game that could have gone either way. On a 2-2 pitch, Nelson Cruz check-swung at a ball that the umpire ruled he didn't go around on, much to the ire of Jim Leyland. Cruz would eventually walk, setting up a David Murphy two-run, RBI single to open the floodgates. Maybe the Tigers would have still pummeled the Tigers into oblivion that inning, but the Rangers wouldn't have scored as much, certainly. If you recreate the inning with Cruz striking out, the Rangers would only have scored three additional runs, making it a score of 6-2 after the inning, not 9-2. Given the Tigers plated two in the top of the fifth, suddenly it's a 6-4 game, and the series is far from over.


It was over when... In the sixth inning, the Tigers asked Brad Penny to try and at least keep the Rangers offense down. Uh, yeah, not so much. With the score 10-4, Adrian Beltre greeted Penny with a double and came around to score with two out on a Craig Gentry single. But Penny wasn't done with his two-out struggles. David Murphy, who had been intentionally walked just before Gentry, scored on an Ian Kinsler single to push the margin of the game to eight runs. The Tigers already had enough trouble on their hands scoring six. But eight? Good night.


Related video: Rangers manager Ron Washington talks about the big victory:



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Photo: Mike Napoli

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.

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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.
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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 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.

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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.

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Posted on: October 13, 2011 12:15 pm
Edited on: October 13, 2011 3:49 pm
 

Eye on Baseball live LCS chat, Thursday at 3:30

By Matt Snyder

Thursday, assuming the weather cooperates, brings us two League Championship Series games. Game 5 of the ALCS pits C.J. Wilson and the Rangers against Justin Verlander and the Tigers and it's set to begin at 4:19 p.m. ET. It's entirely possible this game is the end of the series, too, as the Rangers hold a three games to one lead.

Join us here as we discuss the action and interact with what makes the sport go: The fans. We'll crank this thing up at 3:30 ET and stick around until the thing is concluded.



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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.

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