Tag:Tigers-Rangers
Posted on: October 11, 2011 7:14 am
Edited on: October 11, 2011 5:01 pm
 

ALCS Game 3: Tigers scramble to avoid hole

Lewis, Fister

By Evan Brunell

Rangers at Tigers, 8:05 p.m. ET, October 11, Rangers Ballpark

ARLINGTON, Texas --  The Rangers shocked the Tigers with a walkoff grand slam, the first in postseason history. Obviously, Texas is on a roll and riding momentum with a 2-0 series lead, but no one should expect Detroit to just roll over and play dead. A 2-0 series lead is imposing, but not insurmountable. And now that the series is shifting to Comerica Park, the Tigers will have something they haven't had yet in the ALCS -- last ups.

"It can't change the approach for the pitcher at all," Tigers starting pitcher Fister said of the pressure facing him. "It doesn't change the mindset, it doesn't change how you attack hitters."

Let's be honest -- it's going to be tough for the Tigers to bounce back from this. It's not as if they can point to a major gaffe, or to a bad day by a player. Detroit played hard and was in every game until virtually the last out. And yet, the ball hasn't bounced their way... twice. Mentally, that has to take a toll. It will be interesting to see how the game unfolds.

WHO HAS THE EDGE?


The Rangers are obviously riding the momentum and get to offer up Colby Lewis in Game 3 in a prime opportunity to take a stranglehold in the ALCS. But the Tigers counter with Doug Fister, who threw up a 1.79 ERA in 10 starts and one relief appearance for the Tigers after coming over from Seattle.

It'll be a hard-fought battle, and the Tigers will look for Fister to hold the Texas offense in check. Nelson Cruz, who struggled through September and the ALDS before exploding in the ALCS and taking pole position in the series MVP department, has seven hits in 14 at-bats against Fister. David Murphy has also experienced success, but for the most part, Ranger hitters struggle against the righty, led by Ian Kinsler, Michael Young and Elvis Andrus.

On the flip side, the Tigers have hit Lewis well (more on this below). Alex Avila has two home runs and will look to bust out of his slump at just the right time for Detroit, while both Austin Jackson and Miguel Cabrera have combined to collect 11 hits in 27 at-bats. Fortunately for Lewis, the game is being played at Comerica Park, which has a spacious outfield and should play right into Lewis' hands as a flyball pitcher, especially with left-center field preventing righties from launching home runs.

The pitching matchup is as even as it can get, but the Rangers' offense has been more impressive in the early going and is riding a ton of momentum, so the edge has to be given to Texas.

Rangers' Colby Lewis: Lewis hasn't had much success with the Tigers this season, getting rocked for 13 earned runs over two starts totaling just 7 1/3 innings, but that doesn't faze the right-hander staring at a 2-0 series lead.

"You don't really worry about anything in the past," Lewis said. "Once it's over, it's done with, you just walk in the dugout and forgetabout it and move forward." Lewis also noted that he was successful last season against the Tigers, but that's not entirely true. In three starts, Lewis has a 4.66 ERA. That's a massive improvement over his performance in 2011 against the Tigers, but it doesn't exactly inspire confidence.

What does is Lewis' impeccable postseason record. Since returning from Japan and joining the Rangers in 2010, Lewis has a 1.65 ERA in five starts, including holding the Yankees to one run in six innings during his Game 3 ALCS start. Now, Lewis is a grizzled veteran and ready to halt Detroit's start to the ALCS.

"The more you do it, the more you go out there [in the playoffs], the more you understand what it takes to perform and be on that stage," he said.

Tigers' Doug Fister: As mentioned, Fister has been a revelation since arriving in Detroit. However, no one truly believes he's as good as he's displayed in a Tigers uniform and he was lucky enough to face weak opponents down the stretch. He struggled in the ALDS against the Yankees giving up seven runs in 9 2/3 innings.

But he's home now, in Comerica Field, where he's spun a dazzling 1.61 ERA over the 2011 season. Fister credits the Detroit crowd with getting him ready for the game. "We sit back, we watch everybody standing on their feet waving the white towels. It's something that gives you chills to be a part of," Fister said.

Fister has seen the Rangers twice this season, one apiece as a Mariner and Tiger and has held them in check for six runs in 14 1/3 innings, but he's only struck out just one batter, so he'll need his defense active behind him. The way he's performed so far, the defense will be more than happy to pick up the slack.

"I would be lying if I said we thought he would be this good," manager Jim Leyland said. "He doesn't seem to be rattled. He's aggressive. He's a fierce competitor."

All qualities that need to be displayed on Tuesday night if the Tigers don't want to dig themselves a hole that only one baseball team has ever come back from.

LINEUPS

Rangers Tigers
No. Name Pos No. Name Pos
1 Ian Kinsler 2B 1 Austin Jackson CF
2 Elvis Andrus SS 2 Ramon Santiago 2B
3 Josh Hamilton CF 3  Miguel Cabrera 1B
4 Michael Young 1B 4 Victor Martinez DH
5 Adrian Beltre 3B 5 Don Kelly 3B
6 Mike Napoli DH 6 Jhonny Peralta SS
7 Nelson Cruz RF 7 Alex Avila C
8 Yorvit Torrealba C 8 Ryan Raburn LF
9 Endy Chavez LF 9 Andy Dirks RF

Colby Lewis RHP
Doug Fister RHP

Note: Delmon Young was originally slated to hit third, but he's been scratched from the lineup due to his injury flaring up.

NOTES

  • Elvis Andrus had a strong game for the Rangers, going 1-for-4 with two walks. He also made a pivotal catch late in the game that prevented a Tigers run. Overall, a good game for someone who hadn't been swinging the bat well and whose defense suffered earlier in the year. "He unseated a Gold Glover at shortstop as a 20-year-old," Washington said. "Twenty-one years old, he was in the World Series. When you're that young and you're that successful, sometimes you take things for granted. The thing about this game of baseball, it will humble you. He got a wake-up call with the way he was playing defense. His teammates let him know that the way he was doing it was unacceptable and he got refocused."
  • Tigers closer Jose Valverde went two innings, the first time this season he's gone more than one inning. Nice to see Leyland relying on Valverde more in October -- as he should be -- instead of allowing the soft underbelly of middle relief to get burned. (Well, technically it did, but not until the 11th inning, and you can't help it at that point.)
  • Not having to worry about weather will be nice, and it looks like a nice night in Detroit. The temperature should be in the mid-60s at night with minimal chance of rain. A game will be getting in tonight. Wednesday, similarly, should be fine, but Game 5 on Thursday could be problematic.

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Posted on: October 10, 2011 10:03 pm
Edited on: October 10, 2011 10:09 pm
 

Raburn, Kelly heroes in disappointing loss

Raburn

By Evan Brunell


Ryan Raburn and Don Kelly weren't supposed to play pivotal roles for the Tigers in the playoffs.

And yet, if Detroit had come away with the victory, the story would have been about these two bench players who provided the bulk of the Tigers offense on Monday, collecting three of eight team hits. Raburn's lone hit was the biggest, launching a three-run homer that ended Derek Holland's night and put the Tigers ahead 3-2. It was even more significant given the Tigers' futility with runners in scoring position, having been just 2-for-29 dating back to Game 3 of the ALDS against the Yankees.

"I was just battling ... he kept throwing fastballs up in the zone," Raburn said of the homer, nothing that over time, the Tigers began sitting dead-red on Holland's fastball "For the most part, we battled him real well."

Unfortunately for Detroit, they couldn't capitalize on starter Derek Holland's wildness beyond Raburn's homers. Holland constantly played with fire, issuing four walks and throwing 80 percent fastballs, most of them up in the zone. Detroit kept clinging onto that 3-2 lead, though, with Raburn calling it "nerve-wracking," but things changed in the seventh inning thanks to a Nelson Cruz home run. (Rangers pitcher Scott Feldman, who hurled 4 1/3 innings of relief, said he thought "my beard was going to turn gray.")

Once that happened and the game was tied,
it was Kelly who gave the Tigers hope by doubling in the ninth inning with a runner on first. Unfortunately, that runner, Ramon Santiago, is far from a speedster and was held up at third base. There was some controversy as to whether Santiago would have scored, but Kelly didn't have any opinion on it as he didn't see the play unfold, but skipper Jim Leyland had his answer ready. "The ball came back to [Cruz in right field]," he said. "We were hoping it would kick back, but it didn't. It just came back to him and that's kind of the luck of the draw."

Cruz agreed, saying he got a good bounce and with a man on first base he had to play "no doubles, as close to the gap, as close to the wall. I picked it up as quick as I could. I even bobbled it a little bit. I threw the ball as quick as I could.'

After an intentional walk to Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez popped out. That was the last and best chance Detroit had of coming away with a win and Detroit had to witness Cruz burning them yet again with a walkoff grand slam, the first walkoff in postseason franchise history.

"It's part of the game," Raburn said. "They're a great team out there. They battled."

Kelly concurred, but wasn't ready to give up and start packing his bags for home. "We had some tough games against the Yankees as well," he said, "and we were able to bounce back. That's what we're looking forward to doing tomorrow."

A 2-0 series lead is a tough obstacle to overcome, and going back to the creation of the best-of-seven LCS in 1985, 18 of 21 teams who have taken a 2-0 lead advanced to the playoffs. Those that didn't were the 1985 Blue Jays, Dodgers and 2004 Yankees. Kelly spoke about his experiences growing up as a kid and rooting for the Pirates, loving the chance Pittsburgh gave him as a child to celebrate victories. He's hoping the Tigers can come through for all the Detroit children now that the Tigers are headed back home.

"We've dealt with adversity all year long, and that's not going to change now," he said.

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Photo: Raburn

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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Posted on: October 10, 2011 5:56 pm
Edited on: October 10, 2011 5:59 pm
 

Inconsistent Holland can't last three innings

Holland

By Evan Brunell


The story around Derek Holland has been the same for quite some time now: Worlds of potential, but too much inconsistency holding him back. On Monday, Holland became the first starter in franchise postseason history to walk at least four batters in less than three innings.

It looked as if Holland might have turned a corner with a strong second half, then bouncing back after a poor first against the Rays in Game 2 to turn in a quality outing. But the wheels completely came off in ALCS Game 2, when Holland was knocked out of the game after just 2 2/3 innings, having walked four and giving up three runs on a three-run bomb by Ryan Raburn to give Detroit a 3-2 lead.

Holland threw 76 pitches, just 45 for strikes. Sixty-one of his pitches were fastballs, good enough for an eye-popping 80 percent after relying on the heater just 66.1 percent of the time in the postseason. Much of his pitches were left up in the zone, and while he was able to dance in and out of trouble for two innings, he finally got burned when Raburn took him deep into the left-field stands. Interestingly, Holland threw five breaking pitches to Victor Martinez out of 15, which may indicate a game-plan of sorts, although Martinez hit off-speed pitches just as well as fastballs in season.

After today's peformance, Texas has to think long and hard about turning back to Holland for a potential Game 6, which could mean the difference between glory or a second straight year of disappointment. Depending on how Scott Feldman fares in relief of Holland -- and at the time of this writing, he's notched four straight outs -- Feldman could be the man to throw a potential Game 6.

Follow the game live on CBSSports.com's GameTracker.

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Posted on: October 10, 2011 12:32 pm
Edited on: October 10, 2011 12:35 pm
 

Former Red Sox exec speaks on Francona, Epstein

By Evan Brunell

WoodforkARLINGTON, Texas -- Peter Woodfork, senior vice-president for baseball operations, working under Joe Torre, is in Arlington for the ALCS. If not for a historic September collapse by the Red Sox, he might have been overseeing an ALCS with one of his former employers.

Before beginning his job with MLB at the start of 2011, Woodfork served for five years as assistant general manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks under Josh Byrnes. Both Byrnes and Woodfork worked together with the Red Sox from 2003-05, with the duo helping bring Boston its first World Series since 1918, working under boy wonder Theo Epstein when the team won the title in 2004.

"I don't think anyone saw it coming early in September," Woodfork said about the Red Sox's collapse prior to ALCS Game 2. "As the month went on and the losses mounted, I am sure it became very real for everyone involved."

While Woodfork hasn't been with the Red Sox for years, he was part of the front-office team that oversaw the hiring of Terry Francona to steer the club. Eight years later, Francona is out as manager.

"Terry is a professional and someone I admire for the way he handled the situations that can arise in a market like Boston," Woodfork said. When asked about Francona's replacement, Woodfork said, "Hiring a manager is an extremely difficult task.  You need to consider a number of factors and make the decision that you believe will be best for the entire organization. The Red Sox have strong leadership and decision makers throughout baseball operations and ownership group.  They will do what is best for the club."

But overturn may not be done in Boston. Woodfork's then-boss, Theo Epstein might depart the team and head for greener pastures, possibly taking over the Cubs. If he does indeed leave to Chicago, the Cubs would be getting an "outstanding" GM, Woodfork said, but Epstein's lieutenant in Ben Cherington -- who also worked with Woodfork -- would be a great fit as a potential replacement.

"Ben has all the experience and characteristics to be successful in any baseball operations role," Woodfork said.

Woodfork has had his hands in many different aspects of baseball. Prior to working in the Red Sox and Diamondbacks organization, he worked in the commissioner's office in the labor relations department, working with all clubs in making sure the labor agreement was appropriately followed, as well as steering clubs through the salary-arbitration process. He was involved with the labor agreement process from 2003-06 that is expiring at the end of the month. Despite the wide range of skills that could translate to being a strong GM, Woodfork refused to consider a possible future as GM.

"At this time, my focus is on my job at Major League Baseball," he said. "My energy is geared toward having a smooth playoffs and preparing for the off sesaon."

If Jim Leyland is any indication of the job Woodfork has been doing thus far, he's doing just fine. After Game 1, Leyland told reporters how impressed he was by Woodfork's work with the two rain delays complicating the game.

"I thought Peter Woodfork from the Commissioner's Office he did a tremendous job keeping this thing going staying on top of it," Leyland said." He really did."

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Photo: MLB.com


Posted on: October 9, 2011 4:07 pm
Edited on: October 9, 2011 4:22 pm
 

Magglio Ordonez out of ALCS due to injury

By Evan Brunell

OrdonezMagglio Ordonez will miss the remainder of the ALCS due to injury, the team announced.

Ordonez's surgically-repaired ankle is the culprit, and it may have been the reason why Don Kelly pinch-ran for Ordonez in the fifth inning when play resumed after a rain delay. The 37-year-old had been intentionally walked just before play was halted. Ordonez had surgery to repair a fracture in his right ankle in August of 2010, and it has bothered him all of 2011. Skipper Jim Leyland said the ankle is "killing" Ordonez, and now the right-fielder will be ineligible for the World Series. He may have played his last MLB game, as he contemplated retirement earlier in the year.

Ordonez was 5-for-13 in the postseason with two walks, collecting all five hits in the ALDS. The Tigers have yet to announce who will replace Ordonez on the roster. It's a major blow for the team, who has now lost two starting outfielders with Delmon Young also injured. Young strained his oblique in Game 5 of the ALDS and was left off the ALCS roster. Depending on how he progresses, it's possible he could replace Ordonez. If not, the club will have to go with two bench players in the outfield, with Ryan Raburn replacing Young and Worth likely to fill Ordonez's stead.

The club could opt to have outfielder Clete Thomas added to the team, but Detroit could also bring in an infielder, as Worth also plays infield and was serving as a backup. If Worth is slated to play in right field the rest of the way, the club would need another backup infielder -- likely Wil Rhymes. Currently, Detroit has backup outfielder Andy Dirks on the roster, so bet on an infielder.

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Posted on: October 9, 2011 3:22 pm
Edited on: October 9, 2011 3:30 pm
 

ALCS Game 2 postponed

By Evan Brunell

ALCS Game 2 has been postponed due to heavy rains. It will be played at 4:19 p.m. ET Monday.

Max Scherzer and Derek Holland will be pushed back a day and oppose each other on Monday. The remainder of the ALCS will remain as scheduled, with Monday's travel day removed.

The Rangers currently lead the series 1-0 after defeating the Tigers Saturday night.

ALCS Coverage: Game 2 preview | Texas wins Game 1 | Cruz HR sets record |

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Posted on: October 9, 2011 2:30 am
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