Tag:Miguel Cabrera
Posted on: October 13, 2011 9:02 pm
Edited on: October 13, 2011 11:53 pm
 

Wilson gives up three homers as Rangers fall

Wilson

By Evan Brunell


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Tigers take four-run sixth to victory in Game 5

Verlander

By Evan Brunell


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 12, 2011 11:57 pm
Edited on: October 13, 2011 4:15 pm
 

ALCS Game 5: Tigers need Verlander to step up

Wilson, Verlander

By Evan Brunell

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

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

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

WHO HAS THE EDGE?


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LINEUPS

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

C.J. Wilson LHP
Justin Verlander RHP

NOTES

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

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



Posted on: October 12, 2011 10:32 pm
Edited on: October 13, 2011 1:39 am
 

Blunders cost Tigers as Rangers blast way to win



By Evan Brunell


DETROIT -- The Rangers rode a four-run 11th inning to victory, taking a commanding 3-1 series lead in the ALCS against the Tigers.

Hero: The Napoli man can. Mike Napoli strode to the plate with runners on first and second in the 11th inning in a tie ballgame. For some reason, skipper Jim Leyland thought it would be a good idea to intentionally walk the 0-for-4 Adrian Beltre in front of Napoli to set up a force, after Josh Hamilton (pictured) doubled to begin the inning. After the game, Tigers manager Jim Leyland said, "You're just trying to set up a double play. I didn't want Beltre and Napoli both to hit against [reliever Jose Valverde]."

Problem: Napoli ripped a single into center field for his second hit of the game, scoring the go-ahead run. Look, Beltre is a dangerous hitter, but so is Napoli. In that situation, I take my risks with Beltre, who is more aggressive at the plate and may still have been hurting from fouling a ball off his knee in Game 3.

ALCS Coverage
Goat: The Tigers tried way too hard to make something happen in the 10th inning when Austin Jackson was gifted first base on a hit by pitch. The Rangers still had to get through Ryan Raburn and Miguel Cabrera to end the inning, and yet Austin Jackson took matters into his own hand and tried to steal second, a move Leyland said he agreed with. Jackson was thrown out at second, which was an idiotic move. You can't take the stick out of Cabrera's hands, especially in the bottom of the 10th inning. Sure, Raburn could have hit into a double-play, but give him that chance instead of risking Jackson being caught stealing. The Rangers wouldn't allow Detroit another chance to win.

Turning point: The Rangers finally broke through for three runs in the sixth to take the lead. The man responsible for the go-ahead run in Michael Young had been struggling all postseason long, but finally came through in a big spot by singling in Elvis Andrus. David Murphy opened the sixth with a single, then after a popout, Ian Kinsler doubled to deep left where Delmon Young misplayed the carom and allowed Murphy to score. Andrus followed by plating Kinsler, who was on third after stealing a base. A Hamilton flyout and Porcello pickoff error later, Andrus crossed the plate on Young's single to completely deflate the Detroit crowd.
It took a while for the next run to be scored, but extra innings don't happen without this inning.

It was over when... The Tigers kept making mistake after mistake in the late innings and were burned like crazy in the 11th when they intentionally walked Adrian Beltre only to see Mike Napoli deliver a RBI single. But the game wasn't over at that point -- after all, Texas only had a one-run edge. But then Nelson Cruz blasted a three-run homer that put the stamp on the game. Cruz is the only player to ever hit two extra-inning homers in a postseason series.

Next: Detroit will attempt to stave off elimination by sending Justin Verlander to the hill at 4:19 p.m. ET. The Rangers counter with their own ace, C.J. Wilson.

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

Posted on: October 11, 2011 11:56 pm
Edited on: October 12, 2011 4:50 pm
 

ALCS Game 4: Tigers look to even up series

Porcello, Harrison

By Evan Brunell

UPDATE: The start of Game 4 has been pushed back due to rain. Click here for more information.

DETROIT --  Rangers at Tigers, 4:19 p.m. ET, October 12, Comerica Park

The Tigers finally broke out at home, riding three solo home runs and (finally) an extra-base hit with runners ins coring position to victory, narrowing the ALCS series to 2-1. Given the victory, Detroit won't need to field questions on whether Justin Verlander should start in Game 4, leaving the eventual AL Cy Young Award winner to start Game 5. Texas still has the edge in the series, but suddenly this is a series worth watching.

WHO HAS THE EDGE?


While the Rangers obviously have the edge in the series so far, things could change on a dime Wednesday given the Tigers' success against Matt Harrison the last few years. Most notably, Ryan Raburn is an insane 8-for-12 off of Harrison with two homers. Brandon Inge, Miguel Cabrera and Austin Jackson also have succeeded against Harrison extensively, so if there was a game for Detroit to win, it's this one.

Texas isn't as familiar with Detroit's Rick Porcello, but Michael Young and David Murphy have all experienced success against the sinkerballer, while Nelson Cruz, Adrian Beltre and Mike Napoli all have just one hit against Porcello -- but all three have walked to the plate just seven times against Porcello, which isn't much to draw from as far as evaluating which players could give Porcello a hurting.

With the absence of Magglio Ordonez and possibly Delmon Young (who sat out Games 1 and 3 with injury), the Tigers' offense is pretty weak -- and don't forget about Victor Martinez coming up lame during his home run, possibly straining his oblique. Combine that with defense that is far from excellent (unlike Texas), and you have a convincing case for Texas to take a 3-1 series lead.
Tigers-Rangers

Rangers' Matt Harrison: It seems like such a long time ago, but Harrison is fresh off striking out nine Rays in Game 5 of the ALDS. While the amount of whiffs he sustained forced him out of the game after five innings, it was still an incredible performance for Harrison, and he'll look to send Texas to within one game of the Fall Classic in Game 4.

Harrison will be going on a full seven days' rest, which is a lot. He's thrown two side sessions and also tossed in the bullpen during Game 1 just in case he was needed thanks to the rain outs, so his arm should be fine. His performance against the Tigers might be a different story, as he gave up eight runs (one unearned) in two starts against Detroit this season, lasting just 12 innings. Add in three stints against the Tigers last season, coughing up eight runs in 10 1/3 innings, and one has to wonder just how effective the lefty can be.

"You just have to be aggressive against these guys," Harrison said, noting how Scott Feldman kept the ball down the zone and went after hitters, holding Detroit scoreless for 4 1/3 innings in relief of Derek Holland during Game 3. "Try to limit the mistakes, keep the ball in the corners."

Tigers' Rick Porcello: Leyland was adamant that Porcello would start Game 4, win or lose. Well, here we are, and Leyland's getting his wish.

Hey, Porcello has the ability to one day be fronting Detroit's rotation, but that time simply isn't now and it's hard to get optimistic about a righty who made 31 starts, tossed 181 innings and struck out 104 while walking 46. There's a reason Porcello was the No. 4 starter all season long and if Brad Penny had bothered to produce, he wouldn't even be starting in the postseason. The one benefit to Porcello is he induces grounders at a pretty good clip, but the defense has to be there behind him to make the plays. Given the Tigers' defense isn't exactly elite caliber, that doesn't work in his favor.

The 22-year-old will be making his second appearance of the ALCS after throwing 22 pitches in relief in Game 1, but he says he is fully prepared to go.

"I feel good. My arm feels fresh," Porcello said. I feel like the ball is coming out of my hand better now than it was earlier in the year. I'll be ready to go, and physically everything will be there."

Advanced pitching metrics do like Porcello, giving him a fielding-independent 4.02 ERA, so he could bust out with a start that clinches a return to Texas.

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 1B 4 Victor Martinez DH
5 Adrian Beltre 3B 5 Delmon Young LF
6 Mike Napoli C 6 Alex Avila C
7 Nelson Cruz RF 7 Jhonny Peralta SS
8 David Murphy LF 8 Ramon Santiago 2B
9 Yorvit Torrealba DH 9 Brandon Inge 3B

Matt Harrison LHP
Rick Porcello RHP

NOTES

  • Since Comerica Park opened in 2000, Texas has the worst winning percentage at the park of any team, going just 23-35, including Tuesday's Game 2 loss. It's even worse since Washington took over as Texas' manager, as the club has combined to go 7-18.
  • Miguel Cabrera extended his ALCS hitting streak to 10, which is third-longest to start a career. The all-time record is 13 straight, set by Greg Luzinski from the 1976-1980 ALCS, playing for Philadelphia. Orlando Cabrera is the last player to collect at least one hit in 10 straight games, accomplishing the feat from 2004 with the Red Sox through 2005 with the Angels.
  • Flamethrower Joel Zumaya, the oft-injured Tigers reliever whose 2011 season ended before it began, was in town to take in the ALCS. Zumaya has been working out at Detroit's spring-training home all season and this is his first time back in Detroit since last season. He will be a free agent and hopes to stay with Detroit. "I started here and I wish I could end here," he said.

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


Posted on: October 11, 2011 11:14 pm
Edited on: October 12, 2011 12:40 am
 

Rangers can't hold Tigers at bay, fall 5-2



By Evan Brunell


DETROIT -- The Tigers love the home cooking and rode three solo home runs and an extra-base hit with runners in scoring position to take Game 3 of the ALCS, 5-2. The win narrows the Rangers' lead in the series two games to one.

Hero: Doug Fister came up huge in a virtual must-win game for the Tigers, throwing 7 1/3 strong innings, punching out three and allowing seven hits. Fister had been knocked around in the ALDS, and it was fair to wonder if he was regressing to the mean after unsustainably killing it as a member of the Tigers in the regular season. Nope. Fister's outing was just what the Tigers needed after Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer were unable to keep the Rangers at bay.

Tigers-Rangers

Goat: It may be unfair to pick on Koji Uehara when it was Colby Lewis that relinquished the lead, but so be it. Uehara, you'll recall, gave up three runs and a homer against the Rays in Game 2 of the ALDS without recording an out. That was the extent of his pitching in the postseason until Tuesday night, when Ron Washington asked Uehara to stop the bleeding. Well, he didn't. Uehara relieved Lewis with a runner on first that he allowed to score, then gave up a solo homer in the seventh to ice the game for Detroit.

Turning point: Until Miguel Cabrera stepped to the plate in the bottom of the fifth, the Tigers were 2-for-28 with runners in scoring position in the postseason, and had collected only one extra-base hit with RISP over the last 32 innings. The lone Tiger run that had scored up to that point was on a solo homer by Victor Martinez (pictured). That changed when Miguel Cabrera took a grooved 0-2 fastball from Colby Lewis and lined it to right-field, plating the go-ahead run, and giving Detroit a lead it would not relinquish.

It was over when … It took a while for Detroit to get going with the stick, but a Jhonny Peralta homer in the bottom sixth gave Detroit an insurance run that suddenly made it very difficult for Texas to engineer a comeback with Detroit needing just nine outs from Fister and the bullpen. After an Andy Dirks single to knock Colby Lewis out of the game, Austin Jackson finally came through to plate another run and then it was really over, but Miguel Cabrera added a solo blast just for extra measure.

Next: Detroit will attempt to even up the series on Wednesday when it offers up No. 4 starter Rick Porcello up against Texas' Matt Harrison.

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



Posted on: October 9, 2011 2:12 am
Edited on: October 10, 2011 1:43 pm
 

ALCS Game 2: Tigers look to even series up

Scherzer, Holland

By Evan Brunell

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Tigers at Rangers, 4:19 p.m. ET, October 10, Rangers Ballpark

WHO HAS THE EDGE?


Yeah, Texas won Game 1, but the Tigers still have a thin edge in Game 2. Why?

The Tigers constantly threatened to break the game wide open each of the first several innings, but could never get that big hit. Texas was able to smack Justin Verlander around enough that even if there was no rain delay, the right-hander was probably coming out of the game after five or six innings anyways, having allowed seven baserunners. All told, Detroit reached base 13 times compared to Texas' nine, which includes an error by Austin Jackson.

Then add in the pitching matchup, which you can learn more about below. Both Max Scherzer and Derek Holland are pitchers long on potential that have experienced some difficulty putting it all together. Each pitcher's respective performances in the ALDS was strong, and Holland rebounded after a shaky beginning to Game 2, but Scherzer came away more impressive in the end.

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Tigers' Max Scherzer: Going on three days rest after hurling 1 1/3 innings of one-run relief against the Yankees, Scherzer has taken to the playoffs beautifully and also blanked the Yankees for six innings in Game 2. The righty originally was supposed to start Game 4, but that would have limited him to just one start, and the team could have really used him for two. Now they get that chance.

"He convinced me yesterday. And Max, he's up front with everything. He would never mislead me in any way, shape and form," Jim Leyland said prior to Game 1 of the ALCS, being convinced in due part to Scherzer playing catch on Friday and feeling 100 percent."He's raring and ready to go."

Scherzer's posted a 4.09 ERA since the All-Star break, but that doesn't do justice to how good he's been since mid-July. He punched out 78 and walked just 18 in 82 2/3 post-break innings, with a fielding-independent ERA in the low 3.00s showing just how good he's been. 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.

"Scherzer, what an arm," Rangers manager Ron Washington raved.. 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."

Much like his opponent Monday, Scherzer has struggled with consistency in his command. "It's been a challenge this whole year of constantly making adjustments throughout mechanically with each pitch and how I want to execute it throughout the whole year," the pitcher said. I felt like the last five starts, the way of my stuff and the way of my mechanics, I felt in a good position."

Rangers' Derek Holland: Holland has been tantalizing many with his potential for quite some time, and he's finally starting to deliver on his promise. As Washington put it prior to Game 1 of the ALCS, "Right now he's not a total thoroughbred. He's just a little pony, but he'll develop into a thoroughbred."

Holland has had to battle inconsistency in the past with both command and jitters, He had a forgettable 2010 postseason thanks to that, posting a 4.76 ERA in 11 1/3 innings, but so far this postseason has been an impact lefty. He scuffled in the first inning of Game 2 of the ALDS against the Rays, but pulled it together to go five innings, giving up three runs, two unearned. He also appeared in relief in Game 5, blanking Tampa for 1 1/3 innings.

"Last year, I didn't really know what to expect, how to handle anything," Holland said before Game 1. I have a better idea, especially after being around with [Cliff Lee] and then C.J. [Wilson] has been helping me big time this year in how to handle myself as a starter. This year it's a big difference. I'm a lot more relaxed and I would say composed."

Holland has only started once against the Tigers, coming last season when he held Detroit to one run in four innings, knocked out with a rising pitch count due to walking two and striking out five. Delmon Young had the best success for Detroit against Holland, facing him twice while with Minnesota and collecting six hits in 12 at-bats. Unfortunately, Young isn't on the roster. Wilson Betemit and Victor Martinez are the only active Tigers who have a hit off Holland.

LINEUPS


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

Max Scherzer RHP
Derek Holland LHP

NOTES
  • Unlike the NLCS, there's no rancor between the teams involved in the ALCS. During Jim Leyland's press conference, he went on and on about how amazing Ron Washington has been in Texas and said that they are not enemies, just friends managing against each other. Meanwhile, both teams fraternized during BP with smiles on everyone's face. Miguel Cabrera was a popular man and could be sighted laughing uproariously with Washington.
  • Nelson Cruz's home run snapped a 1-for-16 skid in the postseason following a brutal September. It was a special homer for him too, as it's his seventh postseason homer (in just two seasons). That's the most in Rangers franchise history, breaking a tie with Juan Gonzalez.
  • The winning team in Game 1 of the ALCS has won the series 24 of 41 times, or 59 percent. That number dips to 52 percent when you limit it to only when the ALCS shifted to a best-of-seven since 1985. However, seven of the last 11 ALCS have been won by the Game 1 losing team.

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


Posted on: October 7, 2011 7:12 pm
Edited on: October 8, 2011 4:45 pm
 

Tigers vs. Rangers ALCS preview

By Evan Brunell

Detroit-Texas ALCS

The Tigers and Rangers share one thing in common -- both teams have AL pennants to their name in recent seasons, but fell short in the World Series. Jim Leyland took Detroit to the World Series in 2006, his first season with the club, winning 95 after the Tigers registered five straight seasons of at least 90 losses, including 119 in 2003. It's taken them some time to return to the postseason, but they're here after downing the Yankees in five games. Detroit will be leaning on the electric arm of Justin Verlander, who won Rookie of the Year in '05 but gave up 17 runs in 21 2/3 innings across the 2005 postseason. He'll get a chance at redemption against Texas, who appeared in the Fall Classic a mere season ago.

The revamped Rangers may have lost Cliff Lee, but their offense is as potent as its ever been in franchise history, adding Adrian Beltre and Mike Napoli to its monstrous lineup. Seeking to become the first consecutive AL pennant champion since the 1998-2001 Yankees, Texas will be relying on C.J. Wilson and its formidable bullpen to keep the Tiger offense in check. However, Texas' own offense needs to play up to its billing, as the team scored just 16 runs in the LDS, least among any team. (Granted, Texas was the only advancing club to play a series in less than five games, bouncing Tampa Bay in four.)

TEAM INFORMATION

Detroit Tigers (host games 3, 4, 5*)
95-67, AL Central champions
ALDS
: Defeated Yankees in 5 games -- View coverage of ALDS Tigers-Yankees
Manager
: Jim Leyland
Regular-season batting statistics: .277 batting average (3rd in AL), .340 on-base percentage (3rd), .434 slugging percentage (4th)
Regular-season pitching statistics: 4.04 ERA (7th), 1.32 WHIP (8th), 2.27 K/BB (6th)
Star player: SP Justin Verlander -- 24-5, 2.41 ERA, 251 IP, 0.92 WHIP, 250 K

Texas Rangers (host games 1, 2, 6*, 7*)
96-66, AL West champions
ALDS
: Defeated Rays in 4 games -- View coverage of ALDS Rangers-Rays
Manager: Ron Washington
Regular-season batting statistics: .283 batting average (1st), .340 on-base percentage (5th), .460 slugging percentage (2nd)
Regular-season pitching statistics: 3.79 ERA (13th), 1.24 WHIP (5th), 2.56 K/BB (5th)
Star player: C Mike Napoli -- .320/.414/.631, 432 plate appearances, 30 HR, 75 RBI

*if necessary

WHO HAS THE EDGE? (Click player name for statistics)

Let's break each position down and see which team has the edge...

Catcher: Alex Avila vs. Mike Napoli, Yorvit Torrealba


Being a quality catcher is difficult to do. You have to be able to call a game, develop a rapport with pitchers, block balls effectively, have a gun for an arm... and oh yeah, hit too. The latter category is what Avila and Napoli excel at, as both rank 1-2 in baseball in catcher offense. Napoli of course, blows away Avila in offense, but the Ranger also has 28 less games at the position, in large part due to another capable catcher also on the roster in Torrealba -- but the Tigers have Victor Martinez, too. Defensively, Avila holds the edge, and this is just too close to call.

First base: Miguel Cabrera vs. Mitch Moreland, Michael Young


Moreland could feasibly be at first base the entire series, as he's a favorite of the club and all of Detroit's starters are right-handed, but Young could steal a couple games if the team wants to get Torrealba or Craig Gentry into the lineup. Either way, both these players pale in comparison to Miguel Cabrera who, if it wasn't for Justin Verlander lucking into 24 wins (to be clear, he's a very good pitcher, but win-loss records have nothing to do with player quality), he could very well be the favorite for the MVP award. Cabrera led all of baseball in doubles, batting average, OBP and decided to swat 30 homers too. Moreland is still scrapping to be a full-time player and Young just can't field.

Second base: Ramon Santiago vs. Ian Kinsler


This isn't even close. The Tigers have cycled through six second basemen this season, with five of them receiving at least 17 starts. Santiago won the job basically by default, as Carlos Guillen can't stay healthy, Ryan Raburn split his time between left and second then lost his job for a complete inability to hit and Scott Sizemore was traded. Santiago is like Raburn in that he can't hit, but can flash a solid glove. Kinsler, meanwhile, was one of the most valuable second basemen in the game.

Shortstop: Jhonny Peralta vs. Elvis Andrus


Andrus can pick the ball, get on base and steal bases. Peralta can't steal any bases and can only play a passable short. But boy, can Peralta hit. Here's the thing, though -- people tend to overvalue offense because it's easily quantified, and you can see with your eyes the impact a bat can have. Stolen bases and defense, not so much. But they are important facets of the game as well, and when you factor everything in, this is a dead-even.

Third base: Wilson Betemit, Brandon Inge vs. Adrian Beltre


Adrian Beltre is an awesome player, there is no doubt about that. He posted the second-best season of his career and slugged three home runs to pace the narrative of Texas winning the ALDS. However, the gap between Beltre and the Tigers' crew isn't as large as one might think. Betemit rakes against righties, while Inge is capable against left-handers. But don't ask them to face the opposite-handed pitcher. Inge also has excellent defense at the hot corner and is a great late-inning replacement for Betemit. All told, the duo combines into a pretty good player. Good enough that the difference between Detroit and Texas at the spot is not significant.

Left field: Delmon Young vs. David Murphy, Craig Gentry


Young injured himself in Game 5 of the ALDS, but reports are that he should be fine for the ALCS. If not, Raburn will start in his place. Young has played his way into a 2012 role with the Tigers, but he's doing so on the backing of a hot streak that might not be sustainable long-term. He's a statue in left field and his value is tied up completely in swatting home runs. Murphy, meanwhile, parlayed a hot September into more playing time and has been sharing time with Gentry, with Murphy getting PT against right-handers and Gentry mostly playing against lefties. If Young wasn't performing well as of late, this would probably be a slight edge to the Rangers, but as long as Young's hot streak is carrying him, we'll call this even.

Center field
: Austin Jackson vs. Josh Hamilton


This isn't a difficult decision at all. Hamilton is one of the best hitters in the game and is the reigning AL MVP. Austin Jackson, meanwhile, rode a lot of luck to a .293 batting average last season that sank to .249 this year. He has strong defense, but is miscast as the leadoff hitter.

Right field: Magglio Ordonez vs. Nelson Cruz


At one point this season, Ordonez contemplated hanging his spikes up. Good thing he didn't, for he hit .365 from Aug. 21 to the end of the year and finished the ALDS with five hits in 11 at-bats, including a 3-for-3 effort in Game 2. When Ordonez is hot, he can still beat any pitcher, regardless of his advanced age. But his defense is questionable, and Nelson Cruz is a better hitter at this point. Although Cruz is slumping significantly, gathering just one hit in 15 trips to the plate during the ALDS against the Rays, he remains the better player.

Designated hitter: Victor Martinez vs. Young


A certain three-year-old, I'm sure, would pick Young here with an edge. But both Martinez and Young are remarkably similar in production at the DH spot, and the numbers are uncannily similar even though Young has played in 14 more games. Take a look:

Martinez: .330/.380/.470, 12 HR, 103 RBI
Young: .338/.380/.474, 11 HR, 106 RBI

How can you not call this even?

Starting pitching: Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Doug Fister, Rick Porcello vs. C.J. Wilson, Derek Holland, Colby Lewis, Matt Harrison


The order listed here is the order that both teams have announced will go in the ALCS, so let's judge it on these parameters. For one, the Tigers clearly lose by not being able to set up their rotation they way they wanted. Rick Porcello, obviously the lesser member of the quartet, will start twice while Max Scherzer only draws Game 4 after appearing in relief during Game 5 of the ALDS. Regardless, the Tigers still hold an overall edge here. You don't need me to throw more platitudes Verlander's way, and Fister has been a revelation since coming over from Seattle (although he's veering fast into overrated territory) and Scherzer is a quality pitcher whose potential breakout has been tantalizing pitchers for quite some time.

Over in Texas, C.J. Wilson is a great pitcher, but doesn't quite stack up to Verlander. Porcello matching up against Derek Holland pits a battle of proming young pitchers, especially Holland, who is showing signs of emerging into an ace but is lacks consistency and is prone to the wild inning if he lets the game get away from him. Lewis has an incredible postseason record, but his propensity to give up the long ball held him back in the regular season. Harrison impressed against the Rays by punching out nine but could only last five innings and the jury is still out on just how good a picher he is.

All told, yet another matchup where both teams look even -- but not quite, as Verlander is the man that tips the scales in the Tigers' favor.

Relief pitching: Jose Valverde and co. vs. Neftali Feliz and co.


Both Valverde and Feliz are good pitchers when on, but both can also be maddeningly inconsistent. The Tigers closer can point to his 49 of 49 record in saves, but he walks way too much to be reliable. Feliz, meanwhile, took a clear step back from last season when he closed 40 games as a rookie and lost his strong command. He's been much better since the All-Star break, though, and if I had to pick one closer, I'd take Feliz. Texas also has a vaunted setup corps, boasting Mike Adams (who is still one of the best relievers in the game despite a spike in home runs allowed), Koji Uehara, Alexi Ogando, Mike Gonzalez and Darrell Oliver most notably.

Texas' 3.79 bullpen ERA during the regular season was fifth-best in the AL and would have been even better with full years of all relievers mentioned sans Feliz and Oliver, who have been with the club all year. By comparison, the Tigers' two best relievers are Al Alburquerque and Joaquin Benoit, but Alburquerque only pitched 14 1/3 innings in the second half and did not look good in Games 1 and 4 of the ALDS. The Tigers pen has a chance to be a good one, but Texas is the better bet to come out on top in the war of bullpens.

Defense


Defensive statistics are getting a bum rap these days, and it's understandable. Quantifying defense is a very difficult thing to do and no defensive metric out there can be relied on. However, when you have a large sample to draw from, multiple numbers to look at and enough of a disparity in the numbers, it becomes obvious which defense holds up. And that's the Rangers, who score well in defensive metrics, largely on the strength of Andrus, Kinsler and Beltre, while the Tigers are affected by the tin gloves of Betemit, Cabrera, and Young the most.

DetroitPREDICTION

Both teams shape up to be remarkably even all across the board -- even though both teams are the last two standing in the AL and it makes sense that they would be equals, it's not often you see such a balanced division. It will come down to the postseason mantra of good pitching always beating good hitting, and given the presence of Verlander, I'll give the nod to Detroit vanquishing Texas in six games, while Daniel Knobler likes Detroit too, but in seven.

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



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