DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 11: Miguel Cabrera #24 of the Detroit Tigers runs the bases after hitting a solo home run in the seventh inning of Game Three of the American League Championship Series against the Texas Rangers at Comerica Park on October 11, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Tigers Take Game 3, Defeat Rangers 5-2 Behind Doug Fister

The Tigers used the long ball to support Doug Fister, who led the Tigers to a much-needed Game 3 win in the ALCS.

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Tigers vs. Rangers: Adrian Beltre Expects To Play With Injured Knee

Adrian Beltre will likely wake up in pain on Wednesday, and he'll have no one but himself to blame. He repeatedly fouled pitches off his legs in Tuesday's Game 3 loss to the Tigers, starting with a glancing blow off his left shin in the first inning and a direct hit to his left knee in the fourth.

The hit to the knee is the one that appeared to do the most damage. It knocked him to the ground, as you can see in the screengrab from @cjzero on Twitter:


Beltre needed on-field attention from the Rangers' training staff before he could finish the at-bat, eventually grounding out to third base to complete the plate appearance while running to first with a noticeable limp. After the game, Beltre underwent an X-ray, which was negative. He told reporters that he expects to play Wednesday, but Ron Washington suggested additional tests were needed. From the Detroit News:

"He's getting an MRI and we'll know more about it (Wednesday)," Washington said. "It wasn't a difficult call for me. He said he wanted to stay in."

Assuming he's cleared to play, Beltre will likely continue to be hobbled -- not that he expects that to be a problem. From Ken Rosenthal

"I'm not speedy," he told reporters. "I don't need to run hard."


Tigers vs. Rangers: Victor Martinez Vows Intercostal Strain Won't Sideline Him

Victor Martinez tied the game for the Tigers last night, powering a solo home run over the right-field wall in the fourth inning. Unfortunately, all that torque was too much for his body to handle, resulting in an intercostal strain on his right side.

Martinez, who felt a sharp pain in his right side as he left the batter's box, said rounding the bases was "uncomfortable" -- he took so much time that he admitted asking Rangers catcher Yorvit Torrealba to assure Colby Lewis that he was hurt and not showboating. After returning to the dugout, he slammed his helmet down in disgust, immediately retreating to the clubhouse to receive treatment. 

It seemed likely at the time that Martinez would be sidelined for the rest of the game, and perhaps even longer. But he returned for his next at-bat, and vowed after the game that he wouldn't miss any time. 

"The only way that I don't play tomorrow is if I wake up and I'm dead," he said, as reported by the Detroit Free Press. "That's going to be the only way that I don't play tomorrow."

Martinez, the Tigers' DH, used the time between at-bats to receive treatment and stay loose. "We did some work in the training room, and I was able to go down to the cage and take some swings before I went out there," he said. "I took some pretty decent swings."

Having already lost Magglio Ordonez (ankle) for the rest of the postseason and not knowing from game to game whether Delmon Young (strained oblique) is available, the last thing the Tigers needed was another injured hitter in the middle of their lineup. In fact, that's exactly what Martinez was thinking about when he realized he was hurt.

"Definitely," he said. "Like I said, this is an opportunity that you don't get every day to come and play in the championship series. I was frustrated. We've been going through a lot of stuff, tough moments. We just lost Magglio and Delmon. We don't need another one. That was my frustration."

So long as Martinez can stay in the lineup and provide protection for Miguel Cabrera, the Tigers are frustration free.


Doug Fister, Miguel Cabrera Lead The Way As Tigers Beat Rangers In ALCS Game 3

Doug Fister was superb for 7⅓ innings and Miguel Cabrera doubled and homered as the Tigers reduced the Rangers' series lead to 2-1.


Tigers vs. Rangers: Doug Fister Leaves To A Standing Ovation, Texas Gets A Run Back

Of all the deadline deals made at July 31st, and after sifting through 35,039 different Carlos Beltran, Hunter Pence, and Michael Bourn rumors, it was Doug Fister who ended up making the biggest difference.

Doug Fister.


Doug Fister.

Fister allowed a run in the first inning after he threw seven pitches and allowed three hits. He allowed a run in the eighth inning after Yorvit Torrealba doubled (by using his head as a battering ram) and the next two Rangers grounded out. Apart from the bookends, Fister was superb, striking out three without walking anyone. Of course he didn't walk anyone. The guy sneezes strikes.

He was pulled after 7⅓ innings in favor of Joaquin Benoit, and Fister left the field to a huge standing ovation. Benoit got Elvis Andrus looking to end the eighth.

Without Fister at the deadline, the Tigers would be starting Rick Porcello in this game and Brad Penny tomorrow. Heck, they probably aren't even in the ALCS. No one paid a ton of attention at the time, but it might have been the most important deadline deal any team made. 


Tigers vs. Rangers: Another Home Run Makes It 5-1, Detroit

When Doug Fister got cuffed around by the Yankees in the rain-suspended Game 1 of their Division Series, it was easy to say, "See, I told you Doug Fister wasn't really a winner, and that his ERA and strikeout-to-walk ratio this season were just flukes. Also, if you'd bought gold three years ago when I told you, you'd be living in Monaco right now."

You'd still be right about the gold, but Doug Fister's looking pretty good again.

Fister beat the New York Yankees in Game 5, and he's going to beat the Rangers in Game 3, having given up just one run in seven innings.

Meanwhile, the Tigers brought their whoopin' sticks to this Game 3, with Miguel Cabrera joining the I-Hit-Home-Runs-Against-the-Texas-Rangers club. Granted, all three of the Tigers' home runs have been solo shots. But with the way Fister's pitching, solo shots are plenty. And even if we've seen the last of Doug Fister, we know the Tigers' bullpen isn't in the habit of blowing late leads - they're 80-0 after leading through the seventh inning.

There's a pitching change in the bottom of the seventh, and it's now Tigers 5, Rangers 1.


Tigers vs. Rangers: Detroit Scores Big Insurance Runs In Sixth

Miguel Cabrera put the Tigers in front 2-1 with a two-out double in the bottom of the fifth. In the sixth, Doug Fister came out and protected that narrow advantage, working around a leadoff HBP to keep the Rangers off the board. The HBP was of Ian Kinsler, in the back, so nothing serious, but it put Fister in a dangerous situation. Six pitches later, he was out of it.

To the bottom half we went, and immediately the Tigers produced a hugely important insurance run. I shouldn't say "the Tigers". I should say "a Tiger". Specifically, Jhonny Peralta. Peralta did it all by himself, blasting Colby Lewis' first pitch of the inning - a low-inside fastball - over the left field wall for a solo homer.

That doubled the Tigers' lead, and if you're a fan of Win Expectancy, it improved the Tigers' chances of winning this game from 74 percent to 84 percent. Maybe that seems underwhelming to you, but trust me, ten percentage points is a pretty big deal.

But! The Tigers weren't finished. Two outs later, Andy Dirks chased Lewis with a single to left. Dirks stole second base off reliever Koji Uehara, and scored when Austin Jackson rolled a grounder back up the middle and into center field. BAM! 4-1!

That's where the damage stopped, but 4-1 is a hell of a lot better than 2-1 going into the seventh, and Fister's thrown just 76 pitches. It's beginning to look like we might have a series.


Tigers vs. Rangers: Cabrera's Double Gives Detroit 2-1 Lead

Colby Lewis was rolling along.

He gave up that game-tying home run to Victor Martinez in the fourth, but everything seemed copacetic again as Lewis got Ryan Raburn on a long foul and Andy Dirks on a short fly. But then Austin Jackson singled, and so did Ramon Santiago, with Jackson scooting to third base.

That brought up Miguel Cabrera, with a possibly less-than-100-percent Victor Martinez on deck. Up in the booth, Tim McCarver was screaming for an intentional walk. No, first base wasn't open but second base was, and for McCarver that was close enough.

Ron Washington and Colby Lewis were having none of it, and Lewis got ahead of Cabrera quickly, 0-and-2.

There's a reason why Miguel Cabrera won a batting title this season: He's really good at batting. Lewis's next pitch, a fastball, got too much of the plate and Cabrera lined it into the right-fielder corner for an RBI double, Santiago stopping at third base.

That did bring up Martinez, who regardless of his current percent did draw a walk to load the bases.

Big inning coming, right? Ah, but let us not forget that Don Kelly is the Tigers' No. 5 hitter in this game. There are a lot of things that Don Kelly can do, but batting No. 5 in a postseason game probably isn't something he should do.

Easy for me to say, because I just saw Don Kelly hit a soft grounder to Beltre, who played a little staring game with Cabrera before finally retreating to third base and touching the base.

Heading into the sixth, it's now Tigers 2, Rangers 1. And Doug Fister's out there again.


Tigers vs. Rangers: Victor Martinez Hits Solo Homer, Hurts Side

Well, when it rains pulled oblique muscles, it pours pulled oblique muscles. Approximately four minutes after Game 3 started, the Rangers had a 1-0 lead. The crowd in Detroit was desperate for a reason to cheer -- any reason. As Colby Lewis mowed the Tigers down over the first three innings, the crowd was understandably reserved.

Victor Martinez led off the fourth inning, and he sent a line drive into the right-field seats. It left the park in an instant, and the crowd went berserk. The Tigers are a good team, but they aren't back-from-a-3-0-deficit good. The home run reminded everyone that a win was possible tonight, and a win tonight meant that a win tomorrow was possible, and by golly, the Tigers could head back to Texas just one win away from the World Series!

Then Martinez left the game and walked down the clubhouse steps because he hurt himself on the home run swing.



As he was hobbling down the steps, he pointed to his right side, just above his waist. That seems like an oblique tweak, but I guess it could be appendicitis, a pine-tar rash, or a swollen dingerz gland. Anything's possible. But it's probably an oblique thing, which could mean that tonight isn't the only game Martinez will miss. Just brutal.

Update: He didn't leave the game at all! He's back, and he walked to load the bases in the fifth! I couldn't tell he was still in the game because he didn't take the field after his homer, and I can't think of a good reason why he couldn't.


Keep An Eye On Adrian Beltre

In the top of the fourth inning - with the score still 1-0 Rangers - Adrian Beltre fouled a Doug Fister pitch off of his lower left leg. It was not the first time that Beltre fouled a pitch off of his lower left leg in the game, and he went down to the ground in obvious pain. He got back up, continued the at bat, and even put a ball in play, but it was a routine grounder to third, and he had trouble running it out. Beltre more or less limped towards first base, then limped towards the dugout where he was attended to by trainers.

Not to worry, though. After the inning (in which the Rangers didn't score, or even get a guy on base), Beltre reached for his glove and went out to the field. So he's not done yet. He's clearly in pain and if I'm the Tigers I bunt everything, literally everything to third base, but Beltre's a classic gamer and he's not coming out unless he absolutely has to.

It's worth noting now that Beltre once finished a game despite sustaining a damaged testicle earlier on. It's not that Adrian Beltre lacks pain receptors. It's that Adrian Beltre does his best to ignore what his pain receptors try to tell him. Shut up and mind your own business, pain receptors!


Tigers vs. Rangers: Colby Lewis Throws Sliders, Tigers Still Up

Colby Lewis throws a deep slider.

We know this because Tim McCarver, in his first action this postseason, said deep slider four times in the first two innings.

Now, I have to admit that I don't know what deep slider means.

He does throw a ton of sliders, roughly 27 percent of the time in both 2010 and 2011. According to FanGraphs, it was an outstanding pitch for him last season, not so much this season. Still, it's fairly safe to suggest that Lewis's slider is the pitch that got him back to the majors after two seasons in Japan, and the pitch that's made him a huge part of the Rangers' success these last two years.

Deep Slider Update: McCarver didn't say deep slider once in the third inning, but Lewis just kept pitching well.

Score Update: With Doug Fister pitching exceptionally well, too, it's still Rangers 1, Tigers 0 after three full innings.


Tigers vs. Rangers: Score Holds At 1-0 After Two

Three batters into Tuesday night's Game 3 between the Tigers and the Rangers, the Rangers had a 1-0 lead, thanks to three singles. One of the singles wasn't terrible!

The score is still 1-0 as I write this, and I'm writing this during the commercial break between the bottom of the second and the top of the third. In the second, Doug Fister made pretty easy work of the Rangers' hitters he faced, getting around a two-out single by Yorvit Torrealba.

Colby Lewis went and got himself into more of a jam, but, yeah, as implied, the Tigers couldn't cash in. Victor Martinez drew a leadoff walk, and he moved to second on Jhonny Peralta's one out single through the hole by short. But Alex Avila struck out - continuing his slump - and then Ryan Raburn chased a slider off the plate for another strikeout that ended the inning and stranded the runners.

So that's how we got to the oh would you look at that, Doug Fister just navigated through the top of the third. Weak single, double play, strikeout. Live-blogging is hard when the pitching is good and/or the hitting is not good. To the bottom of the third we go! Lewis has thrown 41 pitches. An unsurprising number of them have been strikes.


Don't Bet Against Colby Lewis In October

Colby Lewis is off to a good start. In the Tigers' first crack at the Texas starter, they didn't hit a ball in fair territory: pop foul, strikeout, strikeout.

As Al Yellon wrote earlier today, this is nothing new for Lewis, who entered tonight's start with four wins and a 1.67 ERA in five postseason starts.

The first four of those came last October, when he

  • pitched six scoreless innings against the Rays in the Division Series, but got a no-decision;
  • beat the Yankees in Game 2 of the ALCS with 5⅔ adequate innings;
  • beat the Yankees in Game 6 of the ALCS with 8 excellent innings (Game Score: 76); and
  • beat the Giants in Game 3 of the World Series with 7⅔ strong innings.

That came after an excellent regular season. Lewis didn't pitch nearly as well in this regular season, but once the postseason rolled around he took up right where he left off last October, limiting the Rays to one run in six innings while winning Game 3 of their Division Series.

Tonight? Well, it's only one inning and the four-game postseason winning streak might well end tonight.

You wanna bet against him, though?

Meanwhile, Doug Fister's pitching in the top of the second and it's still Rangers 1, Tigers 0.


Tigers vs. Rangers: Texas Jumps Ahead In First, Leads 1-0

Okay, section 138 ... 138 ... okay, here we are. Hold the -- Chris, don't do that to your sister. Samantha, don't encourage him. Just don't respond. You're tipping your soda, careful, CHRIS DAMMIT STOP THAT. Okay. Row N. Z ... W ... T ... N. Seats 15, 16, and 17, guys. Come on. Keep up. Seats 15 ... oh, excuse me, I think these are ours. Yeah, you're one down, I think. Thanks. Thanks. Okay. Okay, we're here.

1-0? What the crap? 

Sorry about that. Let me catch you up. Ian Kinsler led the game off with a single on the first pitch from Doug Fister. Elvis Andrus then chopped the third pitch of his at-bat just through the right side. Josh Hamilton got jammed and, uh, fisted a pitch just over the reach of Jhonny Peralta to score Kinsler. Just a few minutes after the game started, seven pitches in, the Rangers were up 1-0 and threatening to score more.

Fister did some exemplary damage control, though, getting Michael Young to ground into a double play, and striking out Adrian Beltre. Still, the early scoring really did a lot to quiet the raucous Detroit crowd. 


Delmon Young Scratched From ALCS Game 3 Lineup With Injury; Andy Dirks To Start

Delmon Young, as you know, was left off the Tigers' initial ALCS roster due to a minor oblique injury. And then Young, as you know, was re-added to the Tigers' roster to replace the injured Magglio Ordonez. Young even started Monday's Game 2 in Texas.

But Young did not look good - even for him - and while he got himself into Jim Leyland's original starting lineup for Game 3, he's been scratched. The injury is still bothering him, and he's too sore to play.

Leyland doesn't know about Young's availability going forward, and it wouldn't be a surprise to find out that Young aggravated the injury by playing. But that's me trying to pass off speculation as insight. It might have happened, or it might not have happened!

Young will be replaced in Game 3 by Andy Dirks, and truth be told, this might actually make the Tigers better. It's bad that Young is hurt, obviously, but Dirks is the superior defensive outfielder, and his bat isn't a bad bet. Especially on Tuesday, given that Dirks swings from the left side, and Rangers starter Colby Lewis is a righty. Dirks probably should've been in the lineup from the beginning.

No word yet on whether Dirks will simply slide into Young's place Tuesday or whether Leyland will shuffle the whole lineup, but we'll let you know when we know.

The new lineup:

Austin Jackson, CF
Ramon Santiago#, 2B
Miguel Cabrera, 1B
Victor Martinez#, DH
Don Kelly*, 3B
Jhonny Peralta, SS
Alex Avila*, C
Ryan Raburn, LF
Andy Dirks*, RF


ALCS Game 3: Ron Washington's New-Look Lineup

Rangers manager Ron Washington has announced his lineup for Game 3, in which his club will face right-hander Doug Fister:

1. Ian Kinsler, 2B
2. Elvis Andrus, SS
3. Josh Hamilton*, CF
4. Michael Young, 1B
5. Adrian Beltre, 3B
6. Mike Napoli, DH
7. Nelson Cruz, RF
8. Yorvit Torrealba, C
9. Endy Chavez*, LF

Two new players! Yorvit Torrealba hasn't started for the Rangers since Game 1 of the Rangers' Division Series against the Yankees, and Endy Chavez hasn't played in a postseason game since 2006.

Chavez is in there because he bats left-handed and hey, why not?

Torrealba's in there because hey, he hasn't played in a while and Mike Napoli's tired of squatting and also Mitch Moreland, while a left-handed hitter, lately doesn't look like he could hit an orange with a tennis racket. He probably could, if given a chance. But that rally-killing double play in the ninth inning of Game 2 was probably enough to get Moreland at least one game off. And if Torrealba hits in Game 3, you might never see Mitch Moreland again.


Detroit Tigers Draft Unsurprising Lineup For ALCS Game 3

Tuesday's Game 3 of the ALCS between the Tigers and the Rangers has a righty on the mound for Texas, so in response, Jim Leyland has put together the following starting lineup:

Austin Jackson, CF
Don Kelly*, 3B
Delmon Young, LF
Miguel Cabrera, 1B
Victor Martinez#, DH
Alex Avila*, C
Jhonny Peralta, SS
Ryan Raburn, RF
Ramon Santiago#, 2B

I say "unsurprising" in the headline because this is basically identical to the lineup the Tigers used against righty Ivan Nova in Game 5 of the ALDS, except with Ryan Raburn in place of the injured Magglio Ordonez.

It's probably not the best possible lineup they could put together. For one thing, three of the first four batters are right-handed, and Colby Lewis is really tough on righties. And for another, Delmon Young is starting ahead of the left-handed Andy Dirks, even though Dirks is the superior defender, and probably the superior bat given this particular matchup. Especially with Young still below 100 percent due to his minor oblique injury.

But Leyland and the Tigers believe in Young as a big bat, so they're not going to leave him out in favor of some unproven kid. Not now, not with their backs against the wall in the ALCS. They want Young, so they'll play Young.

Wilson Betemit will be available as a switch-hitting weapon off the bench. Betemit's still hitless in the playoffs, but he's batted .290 over the last two regular seasons with an .838 OPS, and he's historically been more dangerous from the left side. He'd almost certainly be a better play at third base than Don Kelly, so go ahead and count that as another critique.

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