Posted on: October 4, 2011 5:13 pm
Edited on: October 4, 2011 6:26 pm

Instant Reaction: Rangers 4, Rays 3


By Evan Brunell

WP: Matt Harrison

LP: Jeremy Hellickson

SV: Neftali Feliz

HR: TEX - Ian Kinsler, Adrian Beltre (3)

Series: Rangers defeat Rays 3 games to 1

Hero: Yeah, I know, Adrian Beltre. Don't worry, I talked about him here. But we need to give a shout-out to Matt Harrison, who took out nine -- count 'em, nine -- Rays by way of the K in five innings. The high pitch count racked up by these whiffs forced Harrison from the game after 97 pitches, but the strikeouts were just what Harrison needed. The Rays were hitting Harrison enough that they always seemed to be on the verge of threatening, collecting five hits and two walks. But nothing can happen if the ball isn't put in play, and Harrison ensured that.

Goat: Let's point the finger at Rays pitching. Entering Game 3, Tampa Bay had allowed Texas a scant .219/.299/.313 line as opposed to the Rays' .245/.322/.491 line. And yet, here the Rays sit, having been knocked out of the postseason three games to one. How does that happen? Tampa did an admirable job shutting down the potent Rangers lineup. And even though Game 4 saw four Rangers homers, they were all of the solo variety. The pitching did a fine job... except it didn't, giving up 16 runs over the last three games after Matt Moore and co. shut down Texas 9-0 in the opening game.

More postseason coverage: Postseason schedule | Rangers-Rays series2011 playoffs

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Posted on: October 4, 2011 3:47 pm

Hellickson coughs up three homers, leaves after 4


By Evan Brunell

Jeremy Hellickson's first postseason start didn't go as he anticipated, serving up three home runs and allowing Texas take a 3-2 lead after four innings.

Hellickson, who appears to be the favorite to win the AL Rookie of the Year award after tossing up a 2.95 ERA in 29 starts spanning 189 innings, got his cage rattled immediately when Ian Kinsler took Hellickson's second pitch of the night deep into the stands, starting Tampa off with a 1-0 deficit. Texas chipped in another run on a homer when Adrian Beltre took him deep. No shame in that, as Beltre's 32 homers in just 124 games was his highest home-run total outside of 2004, when he slammed 48 for the Dodgers.

But Hellickson got burned again by Beltre two innings later. It's the first time in Hellickson's major-league career he's given up three homers. Two homers in one game has happened just twice: June 10 of this season against Baltimore, followed a month later on July 3 against St. Louis.

The Rays wasted no time yanking Hellickson from the game, ending his night after four innings. He finishes his first postseason start with a 6.75 ERA on the backing of three runs in four innings, walking one, whiffing one and allowing four hits in total. If these homers were mere flyouts, or even doubles, Hellickson would have been having a fine game and cruising along. Instead, Tampa's going with their other rookie phenom, Matt Moore, in an attempt to even the series at 2-2 and send the ALDS back to Texas.

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Posted on: October 4, 2011 3:27 pm

ALDS Game 4: All about A.J.

By Matt Snyder

Yankees at Tigers, 8:37 p.m. ET, Comerica Park, TBS


Tigers Yankees
No. Name Pos No. Name Pos
1 Derek Jeter SS 1 Austin Jackson CF
2 Curtis Granderson CF 2 Ramon Santiago 2B
3 Robinson Cano 2B 3 Delmon Young LF
4 Alex Rodriguez 3B 4 Miguel Cabrera 1B
5 Mark Teixeira 1B 5 Victor Martinez DH
6 Nick Swisher RF 6 Don Kelly RF
7 Jorge Posada DH 7 Jhonny Peralta SS
8 Russell Martin C 8 Alex Avila C
9 Brett Gardner LF 9 Wilson Betemit 3B
  A.J. Burnett RHP   Rick Porcello RHP


Burnett vs. Tigers: Command has been an issue the past two seasons for Burnett, that's no secret. He led the majors in wild pitches in 2011 while missing enough spots to allow a hit per inning. His 5.15 ERA is a by-product of that. The Yankees were 16-16 in his starts this season and 81-49 when someone else started, so yeah, the negative press Burnett has gotten is with good reason. In two starts against the Tigers this season, however, Burnett wasn't half bad. He was 1-1 with a 3.75 ERA, 0.83 WHIP and 11 strikeouts in 12 innings. That certainly isn't great, but the Yankees would love six innings of two or three runs from Burnett in Game 4. His career numbers against Detroit are bad, though. In eight career starts against the Tigers, Burnett has a 6.33 ERA and 1.50 WHIP. He's started in Comerica Park four times and it was ugly -- 7.17 ERA, eight walks, five hit-by-pitch and three home runs in 21 1/3 innings. Amazingly, current Tigers don't hit Burnett very well. They are hitting a combined .239 against him. Miguel Cabrera is just 3-for-14 (.214), Victor Martinez is 7-for-27 (.259) and Delmon Young is 3-for-15 (.200).

Porcello vs. Yankees: He faced the Yankees one time this season, going seven innings and getting the win after allowing eight hits and two earned runs. In his career, though, he's 2-2 with a 5.56 ERA and 1.54 WHIP against the Yankees. Also, Porcello has been much worse at home this season than on the road. He's got a 5.64 home ERA, compared to a 4.00 road ERA. In terms of individual matchups, it's an incredibly small sample (no one has faced him more than 12 times), but Nick Swisher (1.017 OPS), Robinson Cano (.455 average) and Jorge Posada (.899 OPS) have handled him very well. On the flip-side, Mark Teixeira, Brett Gardner and Derek Jeter are a combined 2-for-28 off Porcello.

New York-Detroit ALDS
  • All we've heard and read Tuesday is that the Yankees' season rests on the feeble shoulders of Burnett. Rightfully so, but don't discount the fact that the Yankees have a very capable offense and manager Joe Girardi is going to have a quick hook with his embattled starter. And Burnett isn't exactly facing Justin Verlander here, as Porcello can be roughed up. I wouldn't want to count on Burnett, either, but this game is by no means a done deal for Detroit. 
  • Booing A-Rod is obviously the popular thing to do, but he's not the only one with playoff issues. Nick Swisher has a career .170 postseason batting average. Mark Teixeira has a career .316 postseason slugging percentage, which is brutal even for a non-power hitter. And Russell Martin is just 1-for-9 this ALDS.
  • In the past two games, Tigers closer Jose Valverde has thrown 53 pitches and allowed four walks, a triple, a home run and two runs. There's no question manager Jim Leyland will use him again Tuesday night if he gets the chance, but the door is wide open for him to blow his first save of 2011.
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Posted on: October 4, 2011 11:42 am
Edited on: October 4, 2011 12:27 pm

ALDS Game 4: Hellickson looks to keep Rays alive


By Evan Brunell

Rangers at Rays, 2:07 p.m. ET, Tropicana Field, TBS

Rangers Rays
No. Name Pos No. Name Pos
1 Ian Kinsler 2B 1 Desmond Jennings LF
2 Elvls Andrus SS 2 B.J. Upton CF
3 Josh Hamilton CF 3 Evan Longoria 3B
4 Michael Young DH 4 Ben Zobrist 2B
5 Adrian Beltre 3B 5 Johnny Damon DH
6 Mike Napoli C 6  Kelly Shoppach C
7 Nelson Cruz RF 7 Sean Rodriguez SS
8 David Murphy LF 8 Casey Kotchman 1B
9 Mitch Moreland 1B 9 Matt Joyce RF

Matt Harrison LHP
Jeremy Hellickson RHP


Hellickson vs. Rangers: Hellickson, a rookie, has only faced Texas once, giving up two runs in six innings on Aug. 30. Due to that, only Ian Kinsler has seen him four times, most among Rangers players, and he's gone hitless. Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli both collected two hits against Hellickson, along with Yorvit Torrealba who hasn't been seen in the lineup since Game 1. This will be the righty's first-ever postseason appearance.

Harrison vs. Rays: Harrison has just one career start against the Rays... coming all the way back in 2008 when he shut out Tampa in eight innings. He's also made three relief appearances and overall holds a 1.29 ERA against the team. Johnny Damon has collected five hits in 10 at-bats against Harrison, while Longoria is a pristine 4-for-4. Overall, current Rays are hitting .325/.438/.575 in 48 plate appearances, which certainly is at odds with his overall success against Tampa.

Full Playoff Coverage


  • If Texas comes away with a victory, not only does the team advance to the ALCS, but it will be it's fifth straight road victory in the ALDS, all against the Rays. That will tie the Yankees' (2003-05) five straight for second-best in the division series, behind Atlanta's eight from 1995-99.
  • Hellickson has one of the highest swinging-strike rates of any pitcher, plus racks up first-pitch strikes as Fangraphs notes. Why, then, has he struck out so few batters? A regression to the mean could be coming as soon as Tuesday against the Rangers.
  • As the Associated Press notes, the Rays starting two rookies in a postseason series is rare, and it will be just the 10th time since 1900 it's occurred.
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Posted on: October 4, 2011 12:33 am
Edited on: October 4, 2011 12:22 pm

Valverde still getting it done, for now

By Matt Snyder

Tigers closer Jose Valverde led the majors with 49 saves this season. He had zero blown saves. If you simply look at those numbers and nothing more, it might seem the Tigers have absolutely nothing to worry about when heading into the ninth inning. From that point of view, they have the best closer in the majors. And it's true he hasn't blown any saves thus far in 2011.

But we're talking about an erratic pitcher in terms of how he pitches on a day-to-day basis and Tigers fans would likely admit as much. He's been on the verge of blowing saves several times and he nearly blew the game each of the Tigers' two wins in the ALDS (note: Game 2 wasn't a save opportunity, but he still almost blew the game).

New York-Detroit, Game 3
Sunday, it took Valverde 34 pitches to end the game. He allowed two hits, two walks and two earned runs. He ended up having to face Robinson Cano, who represented the go-ahead run, to end the game. Cano grounded out. Disaster averted.

Monday, it took Valverde 19 pitches to nail it down. He walked two and one of his first two outs was a warning-track fly out by Russell Martin that would have been in the seats in Yankee Stadium. But it was in Comerica, so he was still safe. With two outs, after walking Brett Gardner, Valverde then faced Derek Jeter with runners on first and second and a one-run lead. And the runner on first was Gardner, one of the fastest men in baseball. Valverde struck Jeter out. Disaster averted again.

So, once again, we're left with the two sides of the argument. On one side, he hasn't blown anything, so Valverde is simply getting the job done. On the other, he's just dodging far too many bullets for even his biggest fans to blindly believe that his success will continue at this rate.

Don't get me wrong. Valverde is definitely a good closer. It's just that he plays with fire far too often, and eventually he's going to get burned. It might be Game 4 of the ALDS, it might be Game 3 of the ALCS or it might just be Game 7 of the World Series. Then again, it might even be sometime next season. Maybe he can eke his way by for nine more Tigers wins, but Valverde cannot continue to put himself in the kind of trouble he has in the past two games and expect to always get out of it. Eventually, it's going to catch up with him. The entire city of Detroit just has to hope the inevitable is delayed until 2012.

More postseason coverage: Postseason schedule | Yankees-Tigers series | 2011 playoffs

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Posted on: October 4, 2011 12:06 am

Leyland's lineup tinkering pays off in Game 3

By Matt Snyder

Ramon Santiago only started the game batting second 16 times for the Tigers this season. He only hit .260 with a .311 on-base percentage, limited power and no stolen bases in the regular season. And here he was, Monday night, slotted second in the Tigers' batting order against big Yankees ace, CC Sabathia.

One of the reasons given by manager Jim Leyland for the move was that Santiago is a good bunter.

In the bottom of the third inning, Santiago came to bat with runners on first and second, no one out, and Delmon Young, Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez being the three hitters behind him. Obviously, he was called upon to bunt. He failed on that front. With two strikes, however, Santiago swung away and gathered an RBI single, getting the Tigers on the board and cutting the Yankees lead to 2-1.

In the bottom of the fifth inning, Santiago came to bat with a runner on second and the score tied at two. He sent a drive deep to left-center field that nearly left the yard. It resulted in a go-ahead RBI double.

The Tigers never trailed again, even though they did need to break a tie again -- and did, on Delmon Young's eighth-inning home run.

Young's home run was huge, as was Justin Verlander settling in for a dominant stretch in the middle of the game, but Leyland tinkering with the lineup and putting Santiago in the two-hole turned out to be a winning move.

More postseason coverage: Postseason schedule | Yankees-Tigers series2011 playoffs

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Posted on: October 3, 2011 9:36 pm
Edited on: October 3, 2011 9:44 pm

Remember me? Granderson gives Yankees early lead

By Matt Snyder

Curtis Granderson was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in 2002 and came up through the system. He played the first six years of his career for the Tigers. Monday night, he gave the Yankees an early 2-0 lead in quite impressive fashion.

After Derek Jeter led off the game with single up the middle, Granderson turned a triple-digit Justin Verlander fastball into an RBI triple to deep center. Granderson then showed his wheels by scoring on an Alex Rodriguez ground out to shortstop -- even though the Tigers had the infield pulled in. Just like that, it was 2-0 Yankees on a night where runs were expected to be at a premium.

There's a long way to go, especially with neither pitcher looking dominant -- CC Sabathia had four walks through two innings -- but two runs could be paramount in this type of pitching matchup. And, again, the pitch Granderson smashed to center was 100 miles per hour. (UPDATE: Right on cue, the Tigers tied it, 2-2, within minutes of this posting. Where's our pitcher's duel?)

Click here to follow along live on CBSSports.com's GameTracker

More postseason coverage: Postseason schedule | Yankees-Tigers series2011 playoffs

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Posted on: October 3, 2011 9:05 pm
Edited on: October 3, 2011 9:06 pm

Adams implosion calls into question his role


By Evan Brunell

The Rangers had to hold on until the very final out, but were able to walk away from Game 3 with a victory, just one more away from advancing to the ALCS for the second straight year.

The story of the game is going to be Colby Lewis' dazzling performance, as well as Mike Napoli doing what Napoli does best -- cranking home runs. But Mike Adams nearly blew the game for Texas, and at this point, serious thought needs to be given toward whether Adams can reliably be the bridge to Neftali Feliz Texas thought it was getting when it traded two well-regarded pitching prospects to San Diego at the trade deadline.

Adams came up with Milwaukee and had a solid rookie year but was limited to 15 1/3 innings the next two years, missing all of 2007 thanks to injury. He surfaced again with the Padres in 2008 and immediately started establishing himself as one of the best setup men in baseball. In the four years since, Adams has a scintillating 1.71 ERA in 242 2/3 innings, punching out 266. There's no doubt the home park of San Diego has been kind to Adams, but he's shown the ability to do it on the road and as a member of the Rangers. Adams has posted similar peripherals in strikeout and walk numbers, finishing 2011 with a 2.10 ERA in 25 2/3 innings for the Rangers. But where things noticeably changed were in home runs allowed, unsurprising given Adams is now pitching for a team whose home park is a hitter's haven.

Adams allowed three home runs in his short time with the Rangers, although only one was at home. Compare that to the Padres, as Evan Grant notes on Twitter, where Adams gave up just four home runs from the start of the 2009 season until being traded. And to make that even more awe-inspiring, two of those homers came this season. That's right, Adams allowed just three home runs in two seasons.

Unfortunately, Adams' homer-happy parade has only continued in the postseason as he gave up Desmond Jennings' second blast of the game during a nightmare eighth inning. Adams threw just 12 of 26 pitches for strikes, with his only out recorded coming on the basepaths as B.J. Upton was thrown out stealing. He walked three straight batters after Jennings' homer, causing him to be lifted from the game. Only Mike Gonzalez and Neftali Feliz prevented more runs from coming in in a great performance by the two.

Adams is a fantastic relief pitcher, but one has to wonder whether he can be relied on in the eighth inning. As mentioned earlier, Adams's strikeout and walk numbers did not change dramatically upon trade, so he's still a fantastic pitcher. But this season, and with Texas as a whole, he's shown a disturbing propensity to the longball, and just one ill-timed homer can mean the difference between going home and hoisting a trophy.

No, skipper Ron Washington shouldn't bury Adams on the bullpen chart. But after tonight, you can bet that Adams has a shorter leash.

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