Posted on: October 3, 2011 8:59 pm
Edited on: October 4, 2011 12:51 am

Instant Reaction: Rangers 4, Rays 3


By Evan Brunell

WP: Colby Lewis

LP: David Price

SV: Neftali Feliz

HR: TEX - Mike Napoli | TB - Desmond Jennings (2)

Series: Rangers lead 2-1 in best-of-5

Hero: Colby Lewis didn't get much in the way of run support until his night was done, but he kept Texas close enough that a four-run explosion in the top of the seventh allowed the Rangers to take the lead and later win the game. That was on the strength of a one-hitter through six innings, punching out six while walking two. He allowed just one run, throwing 62 of 93 pitches for strikes. Lewis' performance the last two postseasons have been nothing short of impressive. As CBSSports.com's Daniel Knobler tweets, "So Colby Lewis, career ERA 4.99, now owns a 1.67 postseason ERA (6 starts)."

Goat: Texas had zero runs until the seventh, then Mike Napoli banged a two-run homer to take the lead in the game. Not ideal for Tampa, but not terrible, as long as they didn't allow any more runs to cross the plate. Except David Price, after getting two quick outs following the blast, gave up a single to Craig Gentry. That led to Brandon Gomes entering the game for the Rays, as manager Joe Maddon hoped he could retire Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus. That didn't happen, as the rookie earns the goat label by giving up walks to each while allowing Gentry to steal his way from first to third. J.P. Howell then relieved, allowing a two-run single by Josh Hamilton before the inning concluded with a 4-1 Rays deficit.

Next: 10/4 at Tampa Bay, 2:07 p.m. ET. Matt Harrison (14-9, 3.39) vs. Jeremy Hellickson (13-10, 2.95)

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

Video: Rangers manager Ron Washington discusses his team's Game 3 win.

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Posted on: October 3, 2011 6:26 pm
Edited on: October 3, 2011 7:30 pm

Jennings snaps perfecto with HR, puts Rays up 1-0


By Evan Brunell

When Carl Crawford left town, the popular opinion was that Desmond Jennings would replace Crawford in left field to kick off the season. The Rays had other ideas and stashed Jennings for more seasoning in Triple-A, opting to go with Sam Fuld instead.

While Fuld was catching everyone's attention in the early going with his defensive wizardry and hot start, Jennings hit .275/.374/.456 in the farm with 17 steals, biding his time. Finally, he received the call in late July and promptly showed Tampa Bay what it had been missing all season, contributing a scorching-hot .333/.415/.611 in August, slamming seven home runs and nailing Fuld's butt to the bench.

But then, in September, Jennings showed everyone why he was a rookie, scuffling through a .160/.268/.250 close to the season. That could have -- and would have -- given any lesser manager reason to yank Jennings from the lineup. But Joe Maddon knew Jennings was the best player available to left, and that's why he's been in the lineup in every game of the ALDS thus far, including leading off Games 2 and 3. He equipped himself ably the first two games, collecting two hits and walks apiece in nine trips to the plate, but his biggest contribution to date has come in Game 3.

Colby Lewis was suffocating the Rays through three innings, hurling a perfect game and continuing the dominance over Tampa he's held since returning from Japanese ball prior to the 2010 season. But then Jennings stepped to the plate and ended the perfect game, no-hitter and shutout in one fell swoop by slamming a ball over the left field fence to give Tampa a 1-0 lead. Lewis then surrendered a walk to B.J. Upton before punching out the side, but the damage was done, thanks to the person tasked with filling Carl Crawford's shoes.

Follow the Rangers-Rays game live at CBSSports.com's GameTracker.

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Posted on: October 3, 2011 5:55 pm

Leyland: Yankees video paints Tigers as JV

New York-Detroit ALDS
By Matt Snyder

As noted in Danny Knobler's column after the Tigers' Game 2 victory over the Yankees in the ALDS, closer Jose Valverde said the series was over. No, he didn't insinuate or imply anything. He flat out said, "it's over." With the series tied 1-1 and the Yankees rolling out CC Sabathia Monday night against Justin Verlander, it's a bit curious. But hey, Valverde isn't shy and I have no problem whatsoever with confidence.

When asked about Valverde's proclamation Monday night, Tigers manager Jim Leyland turned the tables and let his feelings be known about the Yankees' pre-game video intro at home. Via NJ.com:
“First of all, I don't think I saw anything about guarantee. That's number one. I do think he said -- I think when you read all the stories about it, he admitted it was tongue in cheek when he said it.

Second of all, I didn't take offense to the video at Yankee Stadium when they were talking about the World Series, like we were the junior varsity and they were getting ready for the World Series. I didn't take offense to that at all. In fact, I thought it was great. That's what they should be talking about. I don't really think that.

I don't believe in this stuff. I would hate to think the New York Yankees or the Detroit Tigers need any bulletin board stuff to get fired up this time of year. I would take that with a grain of salt. I didn't see anything about a guarantee.”
I couldn't agree more with the last paragraph. I've long wondered by such a huge deal is made about words leading up to big games. Unless someone crosses a line -- racial, family taunts, etc. -- it's pretty irrelevant. When playing in the playoffs, there's no extra motivation needed.

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Posted on: October 3, 2011 4:29 pm
Edited on: October 3, 2011 4:32 pm

ALDS Game 3: CC vs. Verlander, Part Deux

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 Magglio Ordonez RF
7 Jorge Posada DH 7 Jhonny Peralta SS
8 Russell Martin C 8 Alex Avila C
9 Brett Gardner LF 9 Brandon Inge 3B
  CC Sabathia LHP   Justin Verlander RHP

We were supposed to get CC vs. Verlander Friday and weather took it away from us after just nine outs. Monday night, it's time again. Hopefully we're treated to clear skies throughout (and the weather report says there's a chance of rain, but the chances get higher later in the night).


Sabathia vs. Tigers: Sabathia was 0-1 with a 4.15 ERA and 1.65 WHIP two regular-season starts against the Tigers. In his career, Sabathia has faced the Tigers 32 times -- remember, he played in the AL Central for a long time -- going 15-12 with a 4.54 ERA and 1.29 WHIP. Of course, we have to remember, this includes numbers from the early 2000s, when the Tigers' lineup didn't even resemble what it is now. In 14 career starts in Comerica Park, Sabathia is 7-5 with a 4.30 ERA and 1.15 WHIP.

Verlander vs. Yankees: He only faced them twice this season, but it wasn't his best line. He had a 4.50 ERA and 1.58 WHIP in 12 regular-season innings. He also allowed a run against them in his only inning Friday night. The good news for Tigers fans? Verlander is utterly dominant at home. He's 57-23 with a 3.24 ERA in his career at home, but this season he was 10-3 with a 2.37 ERA and 0.94 WHIP in 16 home starts. Then again, he was just as dominant on the road this season.

New York-Detroit ALDS
  • We wrote Sunday that Miguel Cabrera owned Freddy Garcia and the Tigers' first baseman came through with a huge game. Monday, the numbers point to more of the same. Cabrera is hitting .529 with two home runs, 11 RBI and a 1.506 OPS in 23 career plate appearances against Sabathia. In turn, expect CC to be pretty careful with Miggy.
  • Jeter is past his prime as an elite leadoff hitter, but his history against Verlander looks good. He's hitting .345 with a .441 on-base percentage in 34 career plate appearances against the Tigers' ace. Swisher, Teixeira, A-Rod, Cano and Granderson are all hitting under .200 against Verlander, though.
  • The Tigers won the regular season series 4-3, having outscored the Yankees 36-33. Add in the two playoff games and the Yankees have outscored the Tigers 45-44, but the Tigers have won five games.
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Posted on: October 3, 2011 2:28 pm
Edited on: October 3, 2011 2:37 pm

ALDS Game 3: Price looks to avenge 2010


By Evan Brunell

Rangers at Rays, 5:07 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 LF 3 Evan Longoria 3B
4 Michael Young DH 4 Matt Joyce RF
5 Adrian Beltre 3B 5 Johnny Damon DH
6 Mike Napoli C 6 Ben Zobrist 3B
7 Nelson Cruz RF 7 Casey Kotchman 1B
8 Mitch Moreland 1B 8 John Jaso C
9 Craig Gentry CF 9 Reid Brignac SS

Colby Lewis RHP
David Price LHP


Price vs. Rangers: The Rangers can hit lefties well, but Matt Moore showed that the postseason is an entirely different story by putting Texas in a chokehold. Price will hope for more of the same, and has success to draw on. Across two starts on June 1 and Sept. 7, Price threw 14 innings against Texas, allowing five runs while walking three and punching out 13, good for a 3.21 ERA. He'll have his hands full, without question. Nelson Cruz, who is in the midst of a slump that skipper Ron Washington says he's about to break out of, might have the right victim in price. Cruz has slammed two homers against Price in his career and is batting .538. Other strong performers include Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus, who has reached base at a .500 OBP clip.

Lewis vs. Rays: One matchup worth watching is Lewis vs. Evan Longoria. Longoria is hitless in six plate appearances against Lewis, and it may have to do with the slider. Lewis' best pitch the last two seasons has been his slider as Fangraphs.com notes. Longoria happens to have major problems with sliders this season. Johnny Damon and Casey Kotchman are the only batters who have at least career double-digit appearances against Lewis, and only Damon has been able to hit him. The team as a while has seen Lewis 64 times at the plate and are hitting just .182/.297/.255. Unsurprisingly, Lewis blanked the Rays for eight innings in his lone start against them this season.


Full Playoff Coverage
  • Price has never beaten the Rangers and was a major reason why the Rays lost to Texas in the ALDS last season. He was winless in both his starts, and of course, you only need three wins to advance.
  • Moreland hit .234 against lefties this year and usually doesn't play against them, with Yorvit Torrealba picking up the slack. But Washington doesn't want Moreland out of the lineup after he smacked a homer in Game 2.
  • Those who are keeping an eye on the weather after Mother Nature has already reared her head need not worry. The Rays play in a dome, so this game is getting in.
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Posted on: October 2, 2011 7:54 pm

Benoit's big outs propel Tigers

By Matt Snyder

Miguel Cabrera's home run. Cabrera's RBI single. Max Scherzer's solid outing. Jose Valverde's near-colossal meltdown in the ninth inning.

What do those things all have in common? They're likely to get more attention than Joaquin Benoit's outing, for one. If you only look at the box score, Benoit's line doesn't look very good, either, due to him allowing a Curtis Granderson home run to open the eighth inning. Make no mistake about it, though, Benoit was a major player Sunday, just as he has been for the overwhelming majority of the season.

In the offseason, the Tigers signed Benoit to a three-year, $16.5 million contract. That's a pretty big commitment to a guy who only throws one inning at a time, especially since he was 33 and coming off a season that appeared an outlier when compared to the rest of his career (his career ERA was 4.79 before 2010, for example). By the middle of May, the deal looked like it might be a mistake, too. After a disastrous May 16 outing, Benoit had three losses, a 7.98 ERA and 1.66 WHIP.

New York-Detroit, Game 2
Since then, however, Benoit has been a steadying force in the Tigers' bullpen, just as he was Sunday. From May 20 to the end of the regular season, Benoit had a 1.36 ERA, 0.84 WHIP and 52 strikeouts in 46 1/3 innings.

Sunday, Benoit was given quite the task. He entered the game in the seventh inning -- he usually only pitches in the eighth -- with runners on first and second with no outs. It was a 4-0 Tigers lead at the time, but one swing of the bat would have made it 4-3 (and we now know that the Tigers would only hold on to win 5-3) and given the Yankees all kinds of momentum. Benoit got a fly ball out off Russell Martin's bat and then struck out both Eric Chavez and Derek Jeter to end the inning with no damage done. Benoit then took the hill for the eighth, even though he hadn't thrown two full innings since Aug. 30. The Granderson homer to open the inning didn't phase Benoit, who went on to retire Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira.

Most headlines will look elsewhere, but the work done by Benoit Sunday was one of the biggest reasons the Tigers won the game. Just as he's been doing since the middle of May, he got the job done when it counted most -- even if it was in the seventh inning this time around.

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

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Posted on: October 2, 2011 6:43 pm
Edited on: October 2, 2011 6:50 pm

Instant Reaction: Tigers 5, Yankees 3

By Matt Snyder

Detroit 5, New York 3

Max Scherzer

LP: Freddy Garcia

HR: Miguel Cabrera, Curtis Granderson, Nick Swisher

Series: Tied 1-1

Hero: This was a great team effort by the Tigers (other than Jose Valverde, who tried to give the game away). Joaquin Benoit coming out of the bullpen and inducing a fly out and two strikeouts to escape a jam in the seventh was huge. Miguel Cabrera's two-run homer in the first set the tone and he was 3-for-4 with three RBI overall. But Scherzer was the big hero. Last time he faced the Yankees in New York he was shelled for six runs on seven hits (including four home runs), but Sunday he handcuffed the strong Yankees offense for six innings. He was unable to get an out in the seventh before being pulled, but it's pretty doubtful anyone on the Tigers is disappointed with him pitching six shutout innings and allowing only two hits. This was a huge outing that swung the momentum in favor of the Tigers, who now head home for two games.

Goat: We'll go with Derek Jeter here. He was 0-for-5 with two strikeouts and five men left on base offensively. On the defensive end, Jeter made a throwing error to open the sixth inning -- which helped open the door for two Tigers' insurance runs. His postseason track record is amazing, but Sunday was a game to forget for the future Hall of Famer.

Next: 10/3 at Detroit, 8:37 p.m. ET. Justin Verlander (24-5, 2.40) vs. CC Sabathia (19-8, 3.00)

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

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Posted on: October 2, 2011 4:40 pm
Edited on: October 2, 2011 5:05 pm

Max Scherzer had no-hitter through five innings

By Matt Snyder

UPDATE: Scherzer's no-hitter was broken up by Robinson Cano with a bloop single in the sixth. The Tigers held a 4-0 lead at the time of the hit.

Weather forced the Tigers to only get one true start out of ace Justin Verlander in the ALDS and then No. 2 starter Doug Fister faltered in a Game 1 loss. So the Tigers need a big outing out of Max Scherzer in Sunday afternoon's Game 2. Thus far, they're getting it. He has a no-hitter through five innings.

Scherzer's stuff has been stellar. He's worked his way through the Yankees lineup twice, allowing only three walks and a hit-by-pitch. He retired 11 consecutive hitters at one point and has five strikeouts. The only issue is efficiency, as Scherzer's occasional control issues have caused him to build up a pitch count of 82 through five innings. Still, if Scherzer can continue to pitch like this, watch out for the Tigers. They could very well be headed home with Justin Verlander pitching Game 3 and get to face the erratic A.J. Burnett in Game 4

The Tigers hold a 2-0 lead thanks to a first-inning, two-run homer by Miguel Cabrera. Other than that, however, Yankees starter Freddy Garcia has been really good as well. So it's been a bit of a pitcher's duel on a day that many would have predicted would see a lot of runs.

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

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

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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