Tag:Derek Holland
Posted on: October 23, 2011 3:37 am
Edited on: October 23, 2011 4:22 pm
 

World Series Game 4: Clutch outing needed


By Matt Snyder


Rangers at Cardinals, 7:05 p.m. CT, Rangers Ballpark, Arlington, Texas. Cardinals lead series 2-1.

ARLINGTON, Texas -- OK, so Game 3 gave us a bad call and an Albert Pujols barrage. That was it, right?

No, not exactly. For one thing, the Cardinals bullpen had to throw six innings while the Rangers was forced to work 5 1/3. With no off-days until after Game 5, a short start in Game 4 by either team would mean the bullpen is shot for Game 5. So it's up to Derek Holland of the Rangers and Edwin Jackson of the Cardinals to find a way to get deep into the game. Coincidentally, both have battled with command, control and inconsistency. They also both have the ability to completely lock down the opposition. Witness Holland's four shutouts this season or Jackson's 2010 no-hitter.

"Every now and then he has command problems, but when he's not having command problems, he's a quality pitcher," Rangers manager Ron Washington said about Jackson. "Our hands will be full tomorrow. I think a lot just has to do with us trying to make sure that we keep him in the strike zone. If we go to chasing his slider and chasing his fastball up in the zone, it could be a long night."

Holland, meanwhile, is looking for more than just saving the bullpen. He's looking to atone for last season's debacle in the World Series.

World Series, Game 3
"You know what happened. We can bring it up and everything. I went out there, threw 13 pitches, two for strikes," he said. "I feel like I've got a lot to prove after what happened last year, but it's obviously not going to take me out of my game or what I have to do for this next start."

So, yeah, the emphasis is on the fickle starters, at first. But if they can't get deep into the game, relievers like Alexi Ogando, Scott Feldman, Lance Lynn and Fernando Salas will be forced into early action again. And, if that happens, the complexion of Game 5 changes.

PITCHING MATCHUP

Holland vs. Cardinals:
Holland has never faced the Cardinals. He is, not surprisingly, far tougher on left-handers than right-handers. Unfortunately for the Rangers, that really doesn't help much. It does turn Berkman to his inferior side, but he's not a terrible right-handed hitter. The only left-hander that started Game 3 was Jon Jay. He was held hitless, but the rest of the team put up 16 runs.

Jackson vs. Rangers: He's 2-3 with a 4.02 ERA and 1.38 WHIP in seven career starts against the Rangers. Control has been a serious issue, with 22 walks in 47 innings. Of the current Rangers' starters, Jackson has trouble with many of them. Ian Kinsler is hitting .333 with two homers, six RBI and a 1.122 OPS in 20 plate appearances. Adrian Beltre is hitting .429 off Jackson (14 at-bats); Nelson Cruz .417 (12 at-bats). In all, current members of the Rangers own a collective .328/.392/.517 triple slash line off of Jackson.

LINEUPS

Cardinals Rangers
No. Name Pos No. Name Pos
1 Rafael Furcal SS 1 Ian Kinsler 2B
2 Allen Craig RF 2 Elvis Andrus SS
3 Albert Pujols 1B 3 Josh Hamilton CF
4 Matt Holliday LF 4 Michael Young DH
5 Lance Berkman DH 5 Adrian Beltre 3B
6 David Freese 3B 6 Nelson Cruz RF
7 Yadier Molina C 7 David Murphy LF
8 Jon Jay CF 8 Mike Napoli C
9 Nick Punto 2B 9 Mitch Moreland 1B
SP Edwin Jackson RHP SP Derek Holland LHP


NOTES

• Holland's home ERA this regular season? 4.69. His road ERA? 3.39.

• Even though Ryan Theriot had an RBI single in Game 3, Tony La Russa puts Nick Punto back at second base. The likely reason? Punto is 3-for-5 with a home run in his career against Holland.

• Both pitchers have a penchant for piling up the pitch count, even when they get hitters out. There's always a chance either one -- or both -- is able to save the bullpen. It's just not very likely. Expect to see lots of scoring and bullpen innings again.

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Posted on: October 23, 2011 12:10 am
Edited on: October 23, 2011 4:11 am
 

Pujols, Cardinals slug way to Game 3 win



By Matt Snyder


ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Cardinals have taken Game 3 of the World Series from the Rangers, 16-7, and now hold a 2-1 lead.

Hero: As if there was any other choice. After a bad Game 2 and a slight media controversy, Albert Pujols went utterly ballistic. The line: 5-for-6 with three home runs, four runs and six RBI. It was only the eighth three home-run game in postseason history, and only the third in the World Series.
World Series, Game 3

Goat: The Rangers pitching and defense was huge in Game 2 and it totally faltered in Game 3. We're not going to single anyone out, but you can pick from this group: Ian Kinsler, Mike Napoli, Matt Harrison, Scott Feldman, Alexi Ogando or even Elvis Andrus (OK, maybe not, but he had no business making an error on a routine play, and that runner did come around to score).

Turning point: It's gotta be Kinsler's throw/the blown call. There's no way of knowing how the game goes if Kinsler makes a decent throw or if Ron Kulpa makes the correct call, but the Cardinals took full advantage and led the rest of the way.

It was over when ... Pujols crushed an Ogando pitch into the upper deck. That three-run bomb gave the Cardinals an 11-6 lead in the top of the 6th. When it was 8-6, the game was certainly in doubt. In fact, it felt like the Rangers would come back and eight runs wouldn't be enough. But Pujols' prodigious blast put the game out of reach. Or, to better sum up how the Rangers fans felt on this homer, check out the Rangers sitting behind the plate.



Next: We'll do it again Sunday night in Game 4. Edwin Jackson is set to take the hill for the Cardinals while Derek Holland is pitching for Texas. As with the Game 3 slugfest, don't expect it to come down to the starters. As we just witnessed, this is an offensive park. First pitch at 7:05 p.m. CT. Don't miss it.



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Posted on: October 18, 2011 7:06 pm
 

Rangers, Cardinals tentatively line up pitching

By Matt Snyder

ST. LOUIS -- Neither World Series manager would commit to a firm plan in terms of how their respective starting rotations would line up in the series, but both do have a good idea what direction they are going.

Rangers skipper Ron Washington said that after C.J. Wilson -- who has already been announced as the Game 1 starter -- he would go with Colby Lewis in Game 2 and "we're still up in the air as to where we'll go after that, but Colby will throw the second game."

Matt Harrison and Derek Holland have been in the postseason rotation behind Wilson and Lewis, but Washington hasn't made any decisions for anything beyond Game 2.

For the Cardinals, manager Tony La Russa has named pitchers through Game 4, but it's still subject to change.

World Series coverage
"We are going to announce that Jaime (Garcia) is pitching Game 2, and right now (pitching coach) Dave (Duncan) is home, will be back tomorrow, and I know that we're going to look at it closely. But I think we'll be penciling in Kyle Lohse for 3 and Edwin (Jackson) for 4, but that might change when we talk a little more."

A major concern for both teams was the ineffectiveness of most starters in each respective LCS. The Rangers' starters had a 6.59 ERA in the ALCS while the Cardinals starters have a 5.43 ERA in the entire playoffs.

The Cardinals were reportedly having an additional scare, too: Chris Carpenter's elbow was recently said to be a problem. La Russa attempted to alleviate some of that fear.

"If he wasn't sound, he wouldn't be pitching (Wednesday)," La Russa said, when asked if Carpenter's health was sound. "I think what I understand is that way back in August every once in a while he would find -- his elbow was a little stiff, so he would monitor his bullpens, but he also finished really strong. He's been getting treatment, and I know put his hand on the Bible the other day, a couple days ago, with the trainers and the doctor, and they all feel he's good to go."

Carpenter seemed a bit annoyed that talk was centered on his health.

"I'll speak about it one time, and that's it," he said. "Coming out of that start in Milwaukee, I had 200-something innings, 4,000 pitches or whatever and it's the middle of October. Everybody has got soreness and everybody has got aches. I got some treatment on my elbow. My elbow is fine. Tony and 'Dunc' would not throw me out there if it wasn't, and neither would the trainers or doctors. I would have been fine to pitch two days ago or yesterday, whatever day Game 7 would have been, and I'm fine to go Wednesday. I wouldn't go out there if I wasn't. That wouldn't help my team anyway."

That's about as emphatic as one could be, so it would appear he's perfectly fine.

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Posted on: October 17, 2011 5:52 pm
Edited on: October 18, 2011 7:02 am
 

Rangers tab Wilson as Game 1 starter

WilsonBy Evan Brunell

C.J. Wilson has been tabbed as the Rangers' Game 1 starter in the World Series, manager Ron Washington announced on Monday.

“He’s my No. 1 guy, nothing has changed,” Washington told MLB.com.

Wilson has struggled mightily this postseason, posting an 8.04 ERA over three starts. However, not many of Texas' other starters have done well, so Wilson really wins the job by default. As the ace all year long, Wilson could still come through with a gem on baseball's biggest stage. It's unclear who will follow Wilson in the rotation, although Derek Holland has done so all October. Given how shaky Holland has been, though, it's possible he could be bumped down the list by Colby Lewis. Matt Harrison, who has been the No. 4 starter all postseason, will remain in that role, the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram writes.

It is not yet known who will start Game 1 for the Cardinals, although it is widely expected to be Chris Carpenter, who would have pitched a potential Game 7 in the NLCS.

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Posted on: October 16, 2011 11:50 pm
Edited on: October 17, 2011 1:24 pm
 

World Series preview: Rangers vs. Cardinals



By Matt Snyder


Talk about your clashes in historical pedigree.

The St. Louis Cardinals franchise began all the way back in 1882 (as the St. Louis Brown Stockings). After having just won the 2011 NL pennant, the Cardinals now have 18 NL titles and 10 World Series championships -- looking to add No. 11 in the next week and a half or so. The history of the franchise is loaded with Hall of Famers and transcendent personalities, and the city is often said to be one of the best baseball towns in the country. Manager Tony La Russa has been playing bullpen matchups since before Al Gore invented the Internet.

The Rangers' franchise, on the other hand, has only been around since 1961 (as the Washington Senators -- they moved to Texas and became the Rangers in 1972). Prior to 1996, the Rangers/Senators had never been to the playoffs. Prior to last season, they'd only won one playoff game in franchise history. The only individual Hall of Fame plaque with a Texas Rangers cap is Nolan Ryan's. Sitting right in the middle of die-hard football country, Arlington hasn't exactly been romanticized as a baseball hot spot. Manager Ron Washington took his first managing job in 2007.

Full playoff coverage
Of course, history has absolutely nothing to do with this series. The players are the ones who will win this series, not the uniforms or any flags in the respective stadiums honoring the past.

The Rangers are now making their second consecutive trip to the World Series and there's no doubt they're a current baseball powerhouse. Anyone who watched Game 6 of the ALCS can attest that the fans are as great as anywhere, too, because Rangers Ballpark was rocking.

These two teams have lots of similarities, too.

Both lost an ace before the season even began. The Rangers lost Cliff Lee to free agency while the Cardinals lost Adam Wainwright to a torn UCL in his throwing elbow -- requiring season-ending Tommy John surgery. Both offenses feature several power hitters while the bullpens got stronger down the stretch on the strength of midseason acquisitions and some roster/role tinkering. And both teams have been scorching hot for the past six or so weeks.

Sure, the Cardinals late surge got lots of attention and rightfully so. It's because they were running down the Braves from a double-digit deficit in the NL wild-card race. But check this out:

Rangers' September record: 19-6
Cardinals' September record: 18-8

Rangers' October record: 7-3
Cardinals' October record: 7-4

So if you're going to argue for the hotter team winning the series, you're picking the Rangers -- not the Cardinals. Since a Sept. 10 loss to the A's, the Rangers are 21-5. To put that in perspective, that's a 162-game pace of 131 wins. To reiterate, the Cardinals are playing exceptional baseball right now and deserve all the credit they've gotten for the huge comeback in the regular season and run in the playoffs, but let's not be fooled into thinking they come in hotter than their Texas-sized opponent.

TEAM INFORMATION

Texas Rangers (host Games 3, 4, 5*)
96-66, AL West winner.
ALDS: Beat Tampa Bay three games to one.
ALCS: Beat Detroit four games to two.
Manager: Ron Washington
Offensive ranks: 3rd in R, 2nd in HR, 1st in AVG, 5th in OBP, 2nd in SLG
Pitching ranks: 13th in ERA, 12th in K, 5th in WHIP

St. Louis Cardinals (host Game 1, 2, 6*, 7*)
90-72, NL wild card winner.
NLDS: Beat Philadelphia three games to two.
NLCS: Beat Milwaukee four games to two.
Manager: Tony La Russa
Offensive ranks: 5th in R, 13th in HR, 5th in AVG, 3rd in OBP, 6th in SLG
Pitching ranks: 12th in ERA, 21st in K, 15th in WHIP

*if necessary
[Note: All rankings were regular season and for the entire MLB]

POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN -- WHO HAS THE EDGE?

Catcher: Mike Napoli vs. Yadier Molina


Big offensive advantage to Napoli here, but Molina can hit, too. Big defensive advantage to Molina here, but we've seen what Napoli can do behind the plate this postseason. This is a tough call for many reasons. We're weighing Napoli's power stroke (30 HR in 369 at-bats this season) against Molina's ability to completely eliminate the opposing running game. Ultimately, it's a toss up between two really good players.

First base: Michael Young vs. Albert Pujols


Young is a very good hitter. A great one at times, including most of the 2011 season. He just became the first player in LCS history to record two extra-base hits in one inning. He's gotten some noise in the AL MVP argument. It's just that he's not Albert Pujols in any aspect of the game.

Second base: Ian Kinsler vs. Ryan Theriot


Theriot's a scrappy singles hitter who makes lots of baserunning mistakes. He's not a defensive liability at second like he was at short, but he's still not much more than just an average player. Even if Skip Schumaker can return at full health, the upgrade is pretty minor. Kinsler had 32 homers and 30 stolen bases in the regular season and is far superior with the glove. 

Shortstop: Elvis Andrus vs. Rafael Furcal


Andrus is a solid defender and base stealer, but not a very good hitter. Furcal has provided St. Louis a bit of a power-speed combo atop the order since his acquisition. It's a really close call here, but Furcal seems to be providing his team more of a spark at this point in time. Things could easily change by the second inning of Game 1, but we're going Furcal by a nose for now.

Third base: Adrian Beltre vs. David Freese


A healthy Freese has been a monumental boost for the Cardinals' offense, especially as Matt Holliday has dealt with some injuries. Freese was a really good hitter in the regular season and absolutely exploded in the NLCS. Beltre can match and exceed his firepower, though. Beltre had 32 regular-season homers and then went yard three times in the clinching ALDS Game 4 at Tampa Bay. He's also a great defender. Before the NLCS, Freese was underrated, but let's not overcorrect based upon six games. He closed the gap, but is still slightly behind Beltre overall.

Left field: David Murphy vs. Matt Holliday


When healthy, Holliday is an elite player. He's starting to look healthy based upon the last few games, too, so this is an easy call.

Center field: Josh Hamilton vs. Jon Jay


Jay isn't a bad player by any stretch, but he's out of his league here. When Hamilton can keep himself on the field, he's one of the most feared sluggers in the league, and will also sell out his body to make a big defensive play (see Game 6, for example).

Right field: Nelson Cruz vs. Lance Berkman


We cannot discount the season that Berkman, the NL Comeback Player of the Year, put together. He was great, and especially valuable early in the season when Holliday was hurt and Pujols was struggling. But Cruz still almost matched his power production despite playing 21 fewer games in the regular season. In the playoffs, Cruz has been the best hitter in baseball, not to mention that he's a much better defender than Berkman. This one would be a toss up, but Cruz's hot hand pushes him over the top. Put it this way, Cardinals fans: What if you could trade Berkman for Cruz straight up for the series? You'd do it. Don't lie.

Designated hitter


The designated hitter for the Rangers is a mix and match thing. Young or Napoli can be used there, which would get Mitch Moreland or Yorvit Torrealba into the lineup. It's also possible Washington goes with Endy Chavez or Craig Gentry in the outfield and uses Murphy at DH. So, essentially, we're judging the bench here. For the Cardinals, the smart money is on Berkman being used as the DH, which then puts Allen Craig in the outfield. So what we're really judging here is which offense benefits more from being able to use a DH and, oddly enough, the NL team here does. Craig is a much better offensive player than Moreland, Torrealba, Chavez or Gentry. So the three games in Texas will actually favor the Cardinals in this one aspect of the game, however small it is.

Starting rotation: C.J. Wilson, Colby Lewis, Matt Harrison, Derek Holland vs. Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia, Edwin Jackson, Kyle Lohse


Both rotations have good ability yet have been shaky at times. Holland and Garcia particularly struggled in their respective LCS'. Wilson and Carpenter both pitched like aces at several points throughout the regular season, but the deciding factor here is that Carpenter has shown he can carry his team in a big game. Wilson, meanwhile, is 1-4 with a 5.40 ERA and 1.40 WHIP in seven career postseason starts.

Bullpen: Neftali Feliz et al vs. Jason Motte et al


The fact that both teams won four of six games against their respective LCS opponents with zero quality starts tells you all you need to know about how good the bullpens are right now. The Cardinals' bullpen has significantly improved down the stretch, as Motte has stepped in as the closer -- despite not being "officially" named as such. Marc Rzepczynski has been a solid left-handed addition just as right-hander Octavio Dotel has gotten some really big outs. Especially after the NLCS, you have to say the Cardinals have a very strong bullpen right now. The way things have gone for Texas of late, though, it's even better. Scott Feldman and Alexi Ogando have proven to be an exceptional duo to bridge the gap from the starters to the potentially dominant Mike Adams and Neftali Feliz at the back-end.

Defense


Getting Furcal helped the Cardinals, as will being able to use Craig in right instead of Berkman when the games are played in Texas, but this isn't really a match. The two teams had virtually identical fielding percentages during the regular season, but that doesn't measure range. The advanced metrics that do measure range pretty heavily side with the Rangers here. If you just go by position, only at catcher and first base are the Cardinals clearly better. Everywhere else it's either debatable or definitely the Rangers.

PREDICTION

First of all, keep in mind all categories above aren't created equal. Having a slight edge at shortstop, for example, isn't near as important as having an edge in the bullpen. The position-by-position breakdown is just a snapshot at the different strengths and weaknesses of each team. Adding everything together, including the momentum and swagger heading into the World Series, the Rangers have a better offense, defense and bullpen. And while the Cardinals have been having all their happy flights, the Rangers haven't lost consecutive games since August 23-25. The Cardinals' run has been a great story and nothing would surprise us here, but we'll go with the St. Louis run ending when it runs into a more talented buzzsaw. Rangers in six.

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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 10, 2011 8:47 pm
Edited on: October 10, 2011 10:12 pm
 

Cruz heroics send Texas to ALCS Game 2 win



By Evan Brunell


ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers won Game 2, 7-3. The series is now in the Rangers' favor, 2-0.

Hero: With the first pitch of the ninth inning, Adrian Beltre bombed a double that came close to being a walkoff. Following a Mike Napoli intentional walk, Nelson Cruz was plunked to load the bases with zero out.  One would imagine that left plenty of chances for the Rangers to walkoff, but the bottom two hitters in the lineup couldn't come through. A David Murphy flyout followed by a 3-2-3 double play by Mitch Moreland left Texas scoreless. A similar opportunity awaited in the 11th with the bases loaded and no out, but this time, Nelson Cruz made sure the Rangers scored, ripping a grand slam.

It was Cruz's second homer of the game and third extra-base hit of the game, the sixth straight ALCS game he has recorded at least one extra-base hit and the eighth straight he's collected a hit. "First two pitches, I was too aggressive," Cruz said after the game. "I hit the ball, foul ball, foul ball. So after that, I told myself, ' just slow down and try to hit a fly ball to the outfield.'"

The grand slam was all that much more impressive given the scary hit-by-pitch he suffered in the bottom of the ninth inning, collapsing to the ground in pain as the throats of each Rangers fan clenched. "He was scared," manager Ron Washington admitted. "It was black and blue ... but after the doctor checked him and told him he was fine, then Nelson got up."

Cruz's walkoff was not only the first in franchise postseaosn history, but the first walk-off grand slam in the postseason. However, Cruz brushed that accomplishment aside.

"It's special, you know. When you get a chance to get a W, that's the most important thing."

Goat:
Don Kelly was just 4-for-21 against left-handers and was pinch-hitting in a big spot in place of Delmon Young in the ninth inning. Manager Ron Washington of Texas was apparently so intimidated, he yanked Alexi Ogando, who was spinning a beaut in relief, per usual, for lefty Mike Gonzalez. The move backfired, as Kelly ripped a double that should have scored Ramon Santiago from first, but Santiago has no type of wheels. Still, it was a clutch hit but the Tigers couldn't make it pay off after a Miguel Cabrera intentional walk led to a Victor Martinez pop-out to short in shallow left-center.

Turning point: Max Scherzer had settled into a groove and kept the Rangers in check after pitching in and out of trouble to start the game. With his night nearing an end, manager Jim Leyland tried to squeeze one more inning out of the righty. However, Nelson Cruz had other things in mind leading off the seventh, crushing a fastball into left field for his second homer of the postseason, the first coming in Game 1. Cruz also added a double earlier in the game, extending his ALCS hitting streak to eight and ALCS extra-base hit streak to five. He leads all Rangers in postseason homers with eight. The solo blast tied the ballgame at 3-3 and made it anyone's game.

It was over when ...  The Rangers got the 11th inning started with a Michael Young single, and from there it was all over for the Tigers.

Next: Game 3 is in Detroit at 8:05 p.m. ET. Colby Lewis will go for Texas while Detroit counters with Doug Fister.

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