Posted on: October 10, 2011 11:07 am
Edited on: October 10, 2011 1:26 pm

Tigers put Delmon Young back on ALCS roster

ARLINGTON, Texas -- To replace the injured Magglio Ordonez, the Tigers chose an outfielder who hit three home runs in five Division Series games against the Yankees.

Delmon Young is back on the roster. And back in the lineup, batting third, for Monday afternoon's rescheduled Game 2.

Young was removed from the Tigers' roster before the American League Championship Series against the Rangers, after he strained an oblique muscle in Game 5 in New York. Young healed quicker than expected, and Ordonez suffered a broken right ankle that ended his season and quite possibly his career.

The Tigers had no other good options to replace Ordonez, and they added Young back to the roster even before they were certain he could play Monday. Manager Jim Leyland said that Young went through early drills Monday morning and was cleared to play.

Young's return could be a big boost for the Tigers, who had been faced with the lost of two right-handed hitting outfielders, both of whom bat in the middle of the order.

With Young back, Leyland returned to his normal lineup, with Young batting in front of Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez. Ryan Raburn, who played left field in Young's absence in Game 1, subs for Ordonez in right field in Game 2 and bats sixth.

Especially with Ordonez out, the Tigers badly need Young's right-handed bat. They face Rangers left-hander Derek Holland in Monday's rescheduled Game 2. The Rangers have a right-hander, Colby Lewis, pitching Game 3 on Tuesday in Detroit, but left-handers (Matt Harrison and C.J. Wilson) set for Games 4 and 5 on Wednesday and Thursday.

Posted on: October 9, 2011 2:03 pm
Edited on: October 9, 2011 2:12 pm

Tigers stay on rotation, rain threatens Game 2

ARLINGTON, Texas -- When Justin Verlander threw just 82 pitches in a rain-shortened start in Game 1, the Tigers considered changing their rotation and bringing their ace back a day early in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series.

Sunday, they decided against it.

The team announced that Rick Porcello will start Game 4, as scheduled. Verlander will return in Game 5, assuming the Tigers win one of the next three games to keep the series going. The Rangers won the twice rain-delayed Game 1, 3-2, on Saturday night.

Rain is also in the forecast for Sunday night, and a baseball official told CBSSports.com's Scott Miller that MLB is concerned about starting a game that could be subject to multiple delays, and could throw off both teams' pitching plans. There's a chance that Game 2 could be postponed; if so, it would be played Monday, likely in the late afternoon.

In that case, baseball would drop the travel day from the schedule, and pick up with Game 3 on Tuesday in Detroit, as scheduled. No rain is in the Detroit forecast until Thursday, the day of Game 5.

That fits, with Verlander scheduled to pitch that day. The Tigers ace had his Game 1 start in the Division Series ruined by rain, and he pitched just four innings before the rains came Saturday in Texas.

"If anywhere in the country is having a drought, bring me in," Verlander said.

Verlander said Saturday night that he would be available to pitch Game 4, if asked. But since Tigers manager Jim Leyland doesn't plan to use Verlander on short rest, Verlander would only make one more ALCS start, regardless. Given that, it makes more sense to have him at full strength in Game 5, rather than take a chance on having him at diminished strength in Game 4.

Porcello threw two innings after the rain Saturday, but threw only 22 pitches.

Saturday's rain had less effect on the Rangers' plans. C.J. Wilson threw 96 pitches, so bringing him back early was never a consideration.
Posted on: October 9, 2011 1:03 am
Edited on: October 9, 2011 1:46 am

With rainy win, Rangers take away Verlander edge

ARLINGTON, Texas -- With Justin Verlander available for Game 1, the Tigers had an edge in this American League Championship Series.

As long as he won.

He didn't. You can argue about why he didn't -- another rain-interrupted game? Verlander's atypical lack of command? the Rangers' strong lineup? home-plate umpire Tim Welke's small and sometimes inconsistent strike zone? -- but you can't argue the result.

You can't argue that whatever Verlander edge the Tigers had before the series began has already disappeared.

You can even argue that it's already been replaced by an Alexi Ogando edge for the Rangers, because their reliever-turned-starter-turned-reli
ever turned in the pitching performance of the night. After the second of two rain delays, Ogando pitched two hitless innings, setting up the Rangers for their Game 1 win.

Either way, one game into the ALCS, the Rangers have a bigger edge than one game to none, a bigger edge than any home team should have when it wins the opener, which the Rangers did, 3-2.

In fact, one Tigers person went so far Saturday afternoon as to say that Game 1 was almost must-win for the visitors, a truly unusual situation in a best-of-7 series. His reasoning: To win the ALCS, the Tiger pitchers must slow down a very hot Rangers offense, and Verlander was the guy with the very best chance of doing it.

The Rangers didn't exactly beat up on Verlander. Before he left the game at the first of two rain delays, he had pitched four innings and allowed three runs.

But this is worse for the Tigers than Verlander's rain-affected start in the Division Series against the Tigers. He threw just 25 pitches that night at Yankee Stadium, so he was able to come back for Game 3.

Verlander threw 82 pitches Saturday night, meaning the soonest he could return would be for Game 4. It's just as possible that manager Jim Leyland would hold to his original plan and pitch Verlander in Game 5.

Either way, it's likely he'll start just once more in this series.

And it's a series that the Tigers already trail.

They could win Game 2 Sunday, and come home with a split. That's not bad.

But the Verlander edge seems to be gone. The Tiger edge may be gone with it.

Posted on: October 8, 2011 8:05 pm

Rangers' Sundberg favored matchup with Tigers

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The official Rangers position was that they didn't care whether they played the Yankees or Tigers in the American League Championship Series.

An unofficial position, expressed the other night by Jim Sundberg on Twitter, was that the Rangers were better off with a matchup against the Tigers. Sundberg, a former Rangers catcher, now works for the team as a senior vice president.

"My gut tells me NYY but my preference is Detroit," Sundberg wrote, under his Twitter handle of @backstop10.

Why the Tigers?

Sundberg wrote on Twitter that he liked having home-field advantage, which the Rangers have against the Tigers but wouldn't have had if it had been the Yankees. But there was more.

"I just felt like we matched up better against Detroit," he said. "For some reason, I felt uncomfortable playing the Yankees again."

Saturday, Sundberg weighed in with a prediction, not for this ALCS but for the World Series.

"WS winner will come out of the AL," he wrote. "Both us and the Tigers could beat either [NL] team."

Category: MLB
Posted on: October 8, 2011 7:46 pm

Leyland on watching Cardinals: 'I was a wreck'

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Tony La Russa said he was more nervous watching the Tigers' Game 5 than his own.

Jim Leyland understands.

"I was a wreck," the Tigers manager said Saturday, about watching good friend La Russa's Cardinals in Game 5 Friday night against the Phillies. "I mean, it was 1-0. A walk and a home run, and that's it."

Leyland and La Russa have been close for decades, since La Russa chose Leyland to be his third-base coach with the White Sox in 1982. When Leyland took time off from managing after leaving the Rockies at the end of the 1999 season, he went to work for the Cardinals.

They talk frequently, and they pull hard for each other's team.

They met in the 2006 World Series, with La Russa's Cardinals coming out on top. Neither has been back to the World Series since, but now both are one series win away from returning.

The matchup isn't one that either of them looks forward to. It would be easier on both if they made it in separate years, because they know when they meet that one of them has to lose.

This week, though, there are no conflicts. You can be sure La Russa is pulling hard for the Tigers against the Rangers.

And you can be equally sure that Leyland wants the Cardinals to beat the Brewers.

Posted on: October 8, 2011 5:32 pm
Edited on: October 8, 2011 7:23 pm

Young out for ALCS, Cabrera bats 3rd

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Delmon Young took batting practice Friday.

Tigers manager Jim Leyland said Young looked great, despite a strained oblique he suffered in the seventh inning of Game 5 on Thursday night in New York.

But later on Friday, Young's oblique stiffened up. Saturday, the Tigers left third No. 3 hitter off the roster for the American League Championship Series that begins Saturday night in Texas. The Tigers replaced him on the roster with infielder Danny Worth, and replaced him in left field with Ryan Raburn.

And in the third spot in the lineup, where Young has been since the Tigers acquired him from the Twins in August? Leyland chose Miguel Cabrera, who he prefers to bat cleanup.

"With Delmon Young out, it changes things for us," Leyland said Saturday afternoon. "It obviously hurts us a little."

Cabrera batted third just once this season. Since coming to the Tigers from the Marlins after the 2007 season, Cabrera has been the cleanup hitter.

Unlike his good friend Tony La Russa, who bats Albert Pujols third so that Pujols is guaranteed to come up in the first inning, Leyland has preferred Cabrera fourth, with the idea that if he comes up in the first inning, it will be with a runner on base.

"Some people have wanted me to hit him there forever," Leyland said.

Young hit three home runs in the Division Series against the Yankees, becoming the first Tiger ever to hit three home runs in a postseason series.

Young's absence could hurt, particularly since the Rangers will use three left-handed starters in the series. Young is 6-for-12 off Derek Holland, who starts Game 2 on Sunday night. But at least Magglio Ordonez has hit much better in the last month of the season and the first round of the playoffs.

Leyland said he thought all night about the lineup, finally settling on Cabrera third, with Victor Martinez and Ordonez behind him, and with Raburn in front of him. He said he liked the idea of Raburn, who has some power, batting third in a game at homer-happy Ranger ballpark.

Leyland said there was some thought of keeping Young on the roster. But if Young played in an ALCS game, reinjured the oblique and then had to be replaced on the roster, he would be ineligible for the World Series. By making the move now, Young could return for the World Series if the Tigers advance.

Besides, Leyland said he doesn't trust oblique injuries.

"I've never seen an oblique be right in a day or two," he said. "When you mention oblique, I get nervous."


The Rangers also made a roster move before the ALCS, activating reliever Yoshinori Tateyama in place of third catcher Matt Treanor.

With the Tigers starting four right-handers in the series, the Rangers don't plan to use Mike Napoli as a designated hitter, and thus have much less need for a third catcher. With so many right-handed hitters in the Tiger lineup, they figured a right-handed matchup reliever could be more valuable.
Posted on: October 7, 2011 6:25 pm

ALCS will go seven, and the Tigers (may) win it

The boss wants me to tell you who will win the American League Championship Series.

I'd rather tell you how long it's going to go.

One round into the 2011 postseason, I'm convinced that I'm better at guessing that.

Before the playoffs began, I said (somewhat ridiculously) that every series would go the distance. And I wrote (even more ridiculously) that the Yankees would win it all.

Three of the four first-round series went the full five games (and not one series was a sweep).

And the Yankees? They're out.

So here's my ALCS pick: It's going seven games. It's going to be a great series, just as good as the series that the Tigers and Rangers won to get here.

And . . . the Tigers are going to win it.

I'm sure of it . . . no, I'm not. But I do believe it, mainly because this is the series where Justin Verlander is the difference.

It was supposed to happen in the Division Series, because Verlander was going to start twice, and win twice, and that meant the only way the Tigers were going to lose was if the other team won each of the other three games.

Then the rain came, and the Tigers beat the Yankees just as much because of Max Scherzer and Doug Fister and the bullpen as because of Verlander (maybe more so).

But that rain meant that Verlander is now on regular rest for Game 1 of the ALCS, Saturday night in Texas, against C.J. Wilson.

Advantage, Tigers.

Wilson is good, the best pitcher on this winter's free-agent market. Verlander is the best in the game.

It's a seven-game series, not five. Tigers manager Jim Leyland has resisted using Verlander on short rest, which would mean Verlander can contribute just two of the four wins the Tigers need to advance.

The Tigers will need contributions from their other starters, just as they did against the Yankees. But the rest of the Rangers' rotation doesn't offer guaranteed wins, either.

These are two fun teams, two good teams, and I can't pick either one with much conviction.

But the difference is Verlander, and that means the Tigers are going to win.

In seven games.

Posted on: October 3, 2011 8:59 pm

Lewis gives Rangers the start they needed

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Rangers had the best record in baseball in games where they allowed four runs or more. They score plenty of runs, so no need to worry if they give up a few.

The Rays' pitching can change that equation.

The Rangers expected some games like Monday's, and that means that to advance they're going to need some performances like the one Colby Lewis gave them Monday. Lewis, an unsung star from the 2010 Texas run to the World Series, allowed just one run in six innings, and the Rangers turned it into a 4-3 win that gave them a two games to one edge in the series.

The Rangers realize that on paper, the starting pitching matchups in this series will rarely favor them, if ever. They know that the big question is whether their much-better lineup can score a few runs against the great Tampa Bay starters, and whether their starters can do a good enough job against a much-weaker Rays lineup.

Monday, Lewis was better than just good enough.

He allowed just one hit, a fourth-inning Desmond Jennings home run, and just one other baserunner, on a walk to B.J. Upton. He outpitched the much more heralded David Price, and handed a 4-1 lead to the Ranger bullpen (which held onto it, just barely).

Lewis, who the Rangers brought back from Japan before last season, has a 4.99 ERA in 136 career regular-season games. He lowered his postseason ERA to 1.67, in six starts over the last two Octobers.

Monday, he did just what the Rangers asked of him, just what they needed.
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