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Posted on: October 8, 2011 10:08 pm
Edited on: October 9, 2011 2:17 am

Rain delay, Verlander struggles affect Game 1


By Evan Brunell

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Rain has become a staple of the postseason lately, with Philadelphia and Tampa Bay's World Series in 2008 affected by it, as well as the Yankees-Tigers ALDS earlier this year. And now, the ALCS has been affected as Game 1 just experienced a rain delay, and it may not be the last. Rain had been drizzling off and on for much of the game but all of a sudden the jets came on for a downpour and play was quickly stopped. The tarp came off just 20 minutes later, and play is expected to resume at 10:20 ET, but there is significant rain on the way expected to last until 12 a.m. ET, so this could be a long game. With more serious rain on the way Saturday, MLB's Joe Torre said that "this game will be played."

In the early going, the story has been Justin Verlander coughing up three runs, including two in the second. David Murphy tripled Mike Napoli in, with Ian Kinsler later singling Murphy in. But the biggest blast came in the bottom fourth, when Nelson Cruz reversed his playoff fortunes by launching a ball into left-center field. Prior to the homer, Cruz had been just 1-for-16 in the postseason, and also finished September with a .190/.205/.286 skid after beginning the month on the DL with a left hamstring strain.

Skipper Ron Washington did say during the ALDS that he felt Cruz was on the verge of breaking out, liking the swings he was taking in batting practice. Well, he proved right, but more astounding is the tough time Verlander has had. Through four innings, Verlander has tossed 82 pitches, 49 for strikes. It looks like as he's been getting squeezed pretty hard by home-plate ump Tim Welke, as the below pitch F/X plot bears out. By this zone, nine pitches were called balls that should have been strikes, and another four are close enough that being called a strike wouldn't cause anyone to blink.

Strike zone

Meanwhile, C.J. Wilson danced around trouble the first two innings and has been dazzling since, striking out the side in the fourth.

Follow the game live on's Game Tracker.

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Posted on: October 8, 2011 4:28 pm
Edited on: October 9, 2011 2:17 am

Lineups announced for ALCS Game 1


By Evan Brunell

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Tigers and Rangers have revealed their lineups for Game 1, slated to occur at 8:05 p.m. ET. The game promises to have a fantastic matchup, pitting Justin Verlander against C.J. Wilson. Only time will tell if the duel will match up to the gem we saw Friday night in Game 5 of the Cardinals and Phillies NLCS.

Ryan Raburn, despite a lackluster season that saw him lose his job, bats second in left field, replacing Delmon Young. Young was not placed on the ALCS roster after suffering a left oblique injury in Game 5. It's rather disappointing of Leyland to stick Raburn at No. 2; I would have much rather seen Brandon Inge, who can hit lefties rather well, at the spot. Late in the game, Wilson Betemit pinch-hitting at No. 2 would also be a significant boost.

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

Justin Verlander RHP
C.J. Wilson LHP

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Pictured: Miguel Cabrera

Posted on: October 8, 2011 1:14 pm
Edited on: October 8, 2011 1:51 pm

Delmon Young out for ALCS

By Matt Snyder

Full Playoff Coverage
Tigers left fielder Delmon Young suffered an oblique injury toward the end of the Tigers' Game 5 win in the ALDS against the Yankees. He apparently isn't close to being 100 percent, because Young has been left off the Tigers' roster for the ALCS against the Rangers. The roster cannot be changed again until after the series, so Young's out for all seven potential games.

This is a big blow to the Tigers. Young had been thriving in the three-hole with Miguel Cabrera behind him in the batting order. He hit .316/.381/.789 with three home runs in 21 ALDS plate appearances.

Utility infielder Danny Worth will take Young's place on the roster. Expect Ryan Raburn and Don Kelly to get the majority of the work in left field.

The Rangers also made a change to their roster, but it was minor. Relief pitcher Yoshinori Tateyama is in, while third-string catcher Matt Treanor is out.

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

Posted on: October 8, 2011 12:17 am

East or West Coast? High payroll? See ya ...

By Matt Snyder

When Ryan Howard grounded out to end an absolutely brilliant pitchers' duel between Chris Carpenter and Roy Halladay, the Phillies were eliminated from the playoffs by the Cardinals. In the bigger picture, all teams in the East divisions were now eliminated -- just as are the top nine payrolls in baseball, according to the figures from the start of 2011.

Full Playoff Coverage
The Tigers are now the big boy, of the four remaining teams. They entered 2011 with a $105,700,231 payroll, ranking 10th in the majors. The Cardinals followed, ranking 11th, with the Rangers checking in at 13 and the Brewers ranking 17th. This isn't a commentary on how spending doesn't benefit teams, because the Yankees and Phillies only lost Game 5 in their respective series by one run. Spending also gives those teams a larger margin of error on big free agent signings, so don't overreact and say spending causes losing. It most certainly doesn't. But we do have to give credit where it's due here. The four remaining teams in the 2011 postseason were not big spenders. They were more middle-market spenders who assembled quality teams with shrewd front-office moves. Oh, and they aren't from the East, too. That seems to matter to many fans.

We so often hear the lament of the national fans, that they are sick of seeing the Yankees, Red Sox and Phillies. Well, they're all gone now. Lament no more. We've got Detroit, Texas, Milwaukee and St. Louis represented. It's a great cross-section of what those coastal types might call flyover country. Being an Indiana resident, I think it's pretty cool myself.

Maybe FOX isn't happy that the World Series doesn't have the New York and Philadelphia markets (or Boston ... or Chicago ... or Los Angeles), but pure baseball fans will tune in and enjoy a great product no matter who is playing. We just witnessed four dramatic series, none of which were sweeps and three of which went the absolute distance -- all ending with one-run decisions in Game 5. That's a great product. Period.

Oh, by the way, parity police: The Rangers and Brewers have never won the World Series. The Tigers haven't won it since 1984. The Cardinals have won the World Series one time since 1982.

One could spin this as the playoffs of the underdog, though that wouldn't really be accurate in the cases of at least the Rangers and maybe all four. Maybe it's the playoffs of the less fortunate (or medium fortunate, to be more accurate)? Or the adept spenders? The non-coasters? Whatever it is, it's been extremely entertaining thus far and that doesn't appear to be going away any time soon. Make no mistake about it, these two League Championship Series and the ensuing World Series are absolutely compelling. Stay tuned, it's going to be three total must-watch series. Even if the teams don't play in the largest of markets.

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.)


Detroit Tigers (host games 3, 4, 5*)
95-67, AL Central champions
: Defeated Yankees in 5 games -- View coverage of ALDS Tigers-Yankees
: 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
: 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.


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.


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.

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Posted on: October 7, 2011 4:40 pm

Video: Previewing the Tigers-Rangers ALCS

After a thrilling ALDS Game 5 victory in New York, the Tigers shift their focus to the Texas Rangers, who have been waiting a few days on an opponent. Can the Rangers return to the World Series for the second consecutive season after never having won a postseason series through 2009? Can Justin Verlander help carry his Tigers to the World Series for the first time since 2006? Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free-Press joins's Lauren Shehadi to preview the sure-to-be-exciting American League Championship Series.

To view the series schedule with probable pitchers, click here.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 7, 2011 3:21 pm

LCS gametimes announced

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Major League Baseball has announced the game times for the League Championship Series, and we've updated our handy-dandy postseason schedule.

But if you just want the Cliff's Notes version on the ALDS and NLCS game times, here you go -- with the note that we don't know where any of the NLCS games will be played.

American League Championship Series (Best of 7)
Game Result Home team in CAPS
Game 1 10/8: Detroit at TEXAS
Time: 8:05 p.m. ET | Broadcast: Fox
Game 2 10/9: Detroit at TEXAS
 Time: 7:45 p.m. ET | Broadcast: Fox
Game 3 10/11: Texas at DETROIT
 Time: 8:05 p.m. ET | Broadcast: Fox
Game 4 10/12: Texas at DETROIT
 Time: 4:19 p.m. ET | Broadcast: Fox
Game 5* 10/13: Texas at DETROIT
 Time: 4:19 p.m. ET | Broadcast: Fox
Game 6* 10/15: Detroit at TEXAS
 Time: 8:05 p.m. ET | Broadcast: Fox
Game 7* 10/16: Detroit at TEXAS
 Time: 8:05 p.m. ET | Broadcast: Fox
National League Championship Series (Best of 7)
Game Result Home team in CAPS
Game 1 10/9: ARI/MIL @ PHI or STL @ ARI/MIL
 Time: 4:05 p.m. ET | Broadcast: TBS
Game 2 10/10: ARI/MIL @ PHI or STL @ ARI/MIL
 Time: 8:05 p.m. ET | Broadcast: TBS
Game 3 10/12: PHI @ ARI/MIL or ARI/MIL @ STL
 Time: 8:05 p.m. ET | Broadcast: TBS
Game 4 10/13: PHI @ ARI/MIL or ARI/MIL @ STL
 Time: 8:05 p.m. ET | Broadcast: TBS
Game 5* 10/14: PHI @ ARI/MIL or ARI/MIL @ STL
 Time: 8:05 p.m. ET | Broadcast: TBS
Game 6* 10/16: ARI/MIL @ PHI or STL @ ARI/MIL
 Time: 4:05 p.m. or 8:05 p.m. ET | Broadcast: TBS
Game 7* 10/17: ARI/MIL @ PHI or STL @ ARI/MIL
 Time: 8:05 p.m. ET | Broadcast: TBS

Also note Game 6 of the NLDS will be held at 4:05 p.m. ET if there's a Game 7 in the ALDS and 8:05 p.m. ET if the American League champion has already been decided.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 5, 2011 2:27 pm
Edited on: October 5, 2011 2:54 pm

Francona replacing McCarver in ALCS broadcast

FranconaBy Evan Brunell

Former Red Sox manager Terry Francona will replace broadcaster Tim McCarver in the booth for ALCS games 1 and 2, Fox Sports announced.

McCarver is undergoing a minor heart procedure and will be able to return for Game 3, slated for Tuesday, Oct. 11. Game 1 is Friday night on Oct. 8. Francona, of course, recently left the Red Sox after managing the team for eight seasons, winning two World Series. It's an interesting move by Fox, as Francona doesn't have any previous broadcast experience, but he's a big story in baseball right now, both for how he left the Red Sox and where he could possibly land.

It's possible that Francona could choose to take a year off from managing and spend the year in-between broadcasting, a popular move that established managers tend to make these days. However, Francona is thought to want to manage in 2012, so this is likely nothing but a temporary assignment that will give both Fox and Francona exposure and attention.

McCarver is a finalist for the Ford C. Frick Award, which is the Baseball Hall of Fame's award for broadcasting excellence. The other nominees are Skip Caray, Rene Cardenas, Tom Cheek, Ken Coleman, Jacques Doucet, Bill King, Graham McNamee, Eric Nadel and Mike Shannon.

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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