Rangers Open ALCS With 3-2 Win Over Tigers

The Rangers scored three early runs against Justin Verlander, and the bullpen protected a one-run lead with 4⅓ dominant innings as Texas took the first game of the series.

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Rangers vs. Tigers, ALCS Game 1: Highlights And Quotes From The Live-Blog

C.J. Wilson of the Texas Rangers and Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers squared off in Game 1 of the ALCS. It wasn't necessarily a pitchers duel, but that's partially because the game was delayed multiple times due to inclement weather. Both teams got off to quick starts, but neither could capitalize on making each pitcher throw more than 20 pitches in the first inning.

As the Rangers and TIgers battled in an elimination game, Baseball Nation live-blogged. Below are a few of the highlights.

In the bottom of the first, Verlander allowed three runners -- two on walks, and one on a Jackson error -- but struck out Beltre to end the inning. Verlander threw 25 pitches in the first inning; Wilson threw 20.

Jason Verlander wouldn't be so lucky in the second inning however, allowing two runs after David Murphy hit a triple.

Mike Napoli grounded a single to lead off, which didn't seem so bad until David Murphy got a 2-2 changeup that Verlander left sitting over the heart of the plate. Despite being well in front of things, Murphy still launched it deep into the right-center gap for a triple that put the Rangers in front.

Of all people to score off of, the Rangers did it off Verlander. By the end of the second inning, Verlander had thrown a whopping 49 pitches. Not all of that was because Verlander was pitching poorly however, as Rob Neyer points out, he was getting squeezed by the umpires.

Do umpires miss close pitches? All the time. Does this plot suggest that Welke is intentionally squeezing Verlander? Of course not. What it suggests is that when you look at the pitches Welke's missed, the luck has gone completely against Verlander so far. That luck will probably turn around, but the Tigers have to hope it's not too late.

Then the first rain delay hit as the Rangers were up 3-0.

The rain delay was on, and that's when FOX's weather guy told us it could last a few hours. Here's one image:

Weather_medium

As ominous as that looks, though, the weather is traveling in a northward direction, not an eastward direction. So the ballpark's right on the edge. If that were traveling eastward, oh man, oh man, nope. No more baseball.

The game did continue however, and that's when the Detroit Tigers were able to get some runs on the board.

The game then resumed with C.J. Wilson still on the mound, and Wilson went and got himself into a big ol' mess. After getting Brandon Inge to ground out, Wilson allowed Austin Jackson to line the ball the other way for an RBI double. Ryan Raburn followed with a walk, and Miguel Cabrera followed Raburn's walk with a walk of his own. All of a sudden, the bases were loaded, with the tying run in scoring position.

And then Wilson threw a wild pitch. Or rather, he threw a pitch wildly low and inside, and Mike Napoli couldn't catch it cleanly, and the ball rolled far enough away for all the runners to advance. Just like that, it was 3-2.

Just like it was 3-2, it was just like that for another rain delay. The delay lasted quite a while, long enough for the Tigers to make a change at pitcher. They didn't just bring in a relief pitcher though, they brought in Rick Porcello. This left Grant Brisbee to wonder who would pitch Game 4 if not Porcello?

But if Porcello comes in, who picks up Game 4? Verlander? Leyland has adamantly refused to start his ace on short rest, and his restraint is admirable. But Verlander did only throw four innings, albeit with 82 pitches

Porcello? He could throw an inning and come back on three-day's rest with out CPS getting involved, right?

Brad Penny? I can't ... there's no ... this is the ALCS, man ... Brad Penny, no, come on. My evidence is this: Brad Penny

The game continued on until the 7th inning, still 3-2 in favor of the Rangers, when the bullpens took over. Literally take over they did, each shutting down the other team. The Rangers bullpen especially, got hot and shut down the Tigers.

The Rangers bullpen has faced 11 batters, and it's retired ten of them - five by strikeout. The top of the eighth featured Oliver and Adams, and they worked through Don Kelly, Avila and Jhonny Peralta with little trouble.

The Rangers haven't added to their lead, but their arms have protected it, and that 3-2 score from the fifth? It's still intact, as we head to top of the ninth.

The Rangers held on to that 3-2 lead and took Game 1 of the ALCS.

For more on this game, check out Rob Neyer's recap and the rest of the live-blog.

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Rangers vs. Tigers: Texas Bullpen On Fire

When rain set in tonight - the second time - it did so in the middle of a big Tigers rally in the top of the fifth. They had cut a 3-0 deficit to a 3-2 deficit, and they had two outs and the bases loaded, with Alex Avila coming up. Avila posted an .895 OPS during the regular season.

Well, Mike Gonzalez retired Avila after the rain let up. And he gave way to Alexi Ogando, who gave way to Darren Oliver, who gave way to Mike Adams. All the Rangers relievers have been terrific. Here's the log, beginning with Gonzalez vs. Avila in the fifth:

Out
Out
Out
Walk
Out
Out
Out
Out
Out
Out
Out

The Rangers bullpen has faced 11 batters, and it's retired ten of them - five by strikeout. The top of the eighth featured Oliver and Adams, and they worked through Don Kelly, Avila and Jhonny Peralta with little trouble.

The Rangers haven't added to their lead, but their arms have protected it, and that 3-2 score from the fifth? It's still intact, as we head to the bottom of the eighth top of the ninth. (This game is going so fast now that the rain is gone!) Here comes Neftali Feliz, and he'll try to keep the Tigers' bats cold as the Rangers look for a 1-0 series edge.

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Terry Francona: Reviews?

With Tim McCarver out because of a medical procedure that's scary enough to prevent me making fun of him for the next five minutes, the FOX suits went with former Red Sox manager Terry Francona as the person who sits along side Joe Buck and a) makes insightful comments, and b) pokes Buck with a stick to wake him up between pitches. So how is Francona doing?

Francona has great knowledge and insight, but his love of the game is infectious. His enthusiasm sets him apart.
Oct 09 via TweetDeckFavoriteRetweetReply



 Sounds good. Is there a second opinion?

 

Terry Francona: "I want to chew and I want to be able to curse at will and I can't do either." Tito has been great so far.
Oct 09 via TweetDeckFavoriteRetweetReply

 

Well, say, everyone's agog. What about the New York media?

Inexperienced Terry Francona might boost Fox ratings, but move is insult to fans

Wow! Way to take a stand! That comes from this article. Which was written before the game. Which is only slightly pointless and insane. Counterpoint to the article:

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Rangers vs. Tigers: Still 3-2 In 7th As Bullpens Take Over

As I type these words, with one out in the bottom of the sixth inning, Rick Porcello's on the mound for Detroit while lefty Phil Coke and righty Ryan Perry get loose in the bullpen.

Who?

No, I know who those guys are. I'm just a little surprised that we might see them in the middle of a one-run game in October, because neither of them pitched particularly well during the regular season.

Coke finished with a 4.47 earned-run average, Perry 5.45.

But wait, maybe they weren't really that bad.

Coke actually started 14 games this season, and went 1-7 with a 4.82 ERA. As a reliever, his ERA was 3.71 and (more to the point) he struck out three times more batters than he walked. He might be starter material, but he's generally been a reliable reliever and he's been real tough on left-handed hitters.

One can't write such glowing things about Perry. But after returning from the minors in June, he did pitch reasonably well; most notably, he didn't allow a single home run in 26-2/3 innings.

Porcello did finish the sixth in good order, and with a couple of left-handed hitters coming up in the bottom of the seventh, it looks like Coke will be in the game shortly. Meanwhile, Alexi Ogando's still out there for the Rangers in the top of the seventh, and it's still Rangers 3, Tigers 2.

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Mike Gonzalez Throws Two Pitches To Escape Big Jam

And with that, folks, the top of the fifth inning was finally over.

And it took just one pitch, as Mike Gonzalez took over for C.J. Wilson and immediately retired Alex Avila on a grounder to second baseman Ian Kinsler. Oh, and the bases were loaded.

The Tigers did make a game of things with two runs off Wilson between the two fifth-inning rain delays, but they obviously could have done so much more. Anyway, Ron Washington's looking like a genius for the moment, and has already said Alexi Ogando will take over on the mound in the sixth.

Oh, and Jim Leyland removed Magglio Ordonez in favor of speedy Don Kelly. This is not an uncommon occurrence, but it doesn't commonly happen in the fifth inning.

It was a big spot for Gonzalez, who pitched only seven innings for the Rangers after coming over from the Orioles in an August 31 trade.

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Rangers vs. Tigers: Rick Porcello In, So Who Pitches Game 4?

Rick Porcello is in to face the Rangers for the bottom of the fifth. After two lengthy rain delays, Jim Leyland was understandably wary about sending Justin Verlander out to finish his outing. It's not like Verlander was especially sharp before the rain delay, so if Leyland's decision wasn't easy before, it sure as heck was after the second rain delay.

But if Porcello comes in, who picks up Game 4? Verlander? Leyland has adamantly refused to start his ace on short rest, and his restraint is admirable. But Verlander did only throw four innings, albeit with 82 pitches

Porcello? He could throw an inning and come back on three-day's rest with out CPS getting involved, right?

Brad Penny? I can't ... there's no ... this is the ALCS, man ... Brad Penny, no, come on. My evidence is this: Brad Penny

If I had to guess, I'd wager that the circumstances will dictate what happens. Tigers up 3-0 in the series? Penny. Maybe Porcello if he doesn't work hard. Tigers in need of a win? Verlander. Short rest isn't something Leyland wants to do, but I can see him talking himself into it considering that Verlander didn't have an eight-inning, 120-marathon outing on Saturday.

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Rangers vs. Tigers: Rain Delay Ending At 10:45 Local Time

Why, that's mere minutes away! It feels like it's been the top of the fifth inning forever, because it has been the top of the fifth inning forever, but one figures we'll reach a conclusion pretty shortly after play resumes. Which it will, in mere minutes.

The forecast is supposedly good now, and they don't expect there to be any more rain, so we can all cross our fingers. The rain that they did get didn't show up on the radar though until shortly before it arrived, though, so, yeah.

To refresh your memory, as soon as play picks up, it'll be 3-2 Rangers, and the Tigers will have two outs and the bases loaded. Alex Avila will bat, and he'll bat against lefty reliever Mike Gonzalez, who's taking over for C.J. Wilson. Ron Washington said during the delay that Alexi Ogando will handle the sixth, so that's how this maps out. Gonzalez --> reliever if Gonzalez doesn't get Avila out? --> Ogando.

As for the Tigers, Rick Porcello is warming up in the bullpen, and he'll come in in relief of Justin Verlander. The implications for Detroit's pitching rotation in this series are absolutely staggering. Just staggering.

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Pre-Post-Rain Delay Second Guessing

Walking the bases loaded is usually an awful idea. Hitters hit better with the bases loaded.  Walking Matt Holliday to get to Jon Jay, for example, usually isn't smart. It creates too much of an advantage if the pitcher falls behind.

So Ron Washington put Magglio Ordonez on to load the bases. Like, on purpose. He'd rather face Alex Avila with the bases loaded than C.J. Wilson face Magglio Ordonez with first base open.

YearOrdonez PAIntentional Walks
2011 357 0


Odd. This hasn't come up before tonight. Also odd: Alex Avila is better than Magglio Ordonez. Maybe not last year or the decade before, but he's better now. He's better against lefties, and he's better against right-handers. He's better against starters, and he's better against relievers. He's better against goats, he's better on boats. He's better in the rain, he's better on a train.

And he's sure as hell better when hitting with the bases loaded than Magglio is with runners on second and third.

Aw, heck, I'm not too proud to avoid micro-splits when it supports my position.

Split (Magglio Ordonez) PA BA OBP SLG OPS
Runners on second/third 11 .111 .182 .111 .293

 

Split (Alex Avila) PA BA OBP SLG OPS
Bases loaded 16 .333 .375 .444 .819


Those are useless splits, but I want one reason. One reason. Just one good reason why you'd rather pitch to Avila with the bases loaded than Magglio with a base open. I'm a simple man. That's all I want.

And of course Avila's going to strike out after the rain delay to make me look like an ass. Better to be wrong early than pretend you were right after the fact. 

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Rain Delay Update: Brandon Inge Speaks

We're in our second rain delay, and Ken Rosenthal grabbed Brandon Inge for a quick interview ...

KR: Let's talk about your season a little bit. You went down to triple-A rather than accept a release from the Tigers. You wanted to be with this team. Tell me why you did that.

BI: Well, I've been here for a long time, made a lot of friends, a lot of family along the way, and I just didn't want to give up on this ball club. It was no one's fault but my own, the way I was hittin', so I figured I may as well go down, put a little hard work in to try to fix my swing a little bit to get back. I just didn't want to give up on the guys, you know? I didn't want to go out that way...

Fortunately, Inge's kids are young enough that they didn't really understand he'd been demoted; they just figured that he'd been traded to just another baseball team, the Toledo Mud Hens.

And of course, there was a happy ending. Inge crushed the ball in 29 games with Toledo, and while he saw just limited duties after returning to the Tigers in August, he did post a nifty .278/.355/.444 line in 64 plate appearances. And of course now he's playing in the American League Championship Series.

Happy ending, indeed.

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Rangers vs. Tigers: Detroit Scores, Then Uh Oh More Rain!

We've already gone through one rain delay. It came in the top of the fifth, after Ramon Santiago led off the inning with a double. That delay lasted from something like 8:42 to 9:20 local time.

The game then resumed with C.J. Wilson still on the mound, and Wilson went and got himself into a big ol' mess. After getting Brandon Inge to ground out, Wilson allowed Austin Jackson to line the ball the other way for an RBI double. Ryan Raburn followed with a walk, and Miguel Cabrera followed Raburn's walk with a walk of his own. All of a sudden, the bases were loaded, with the tying run in scoring position.

And then Wilson threw a wild pitch. Or rather, he threw a pitch wildly low and inside, and Mike Napoli couldn't catch it cleanly, and the ball rolled far enough away for all the runners to advance. Just like that, it was 3-2.

Wilson made a big pitch, though, throwing a 1-2 cutter to Victor Martinez that Martinez tapped back to the mound. Wilson looked back the runners before throwing Martinez out, and so there were two down, and Magglio Ordonez coming up.

And then...uh...

Well, Ordonez was intentionally walked to load the bases so that Wilson could face Alex Avila. Now, there's a handedness component here. Ordonez bats righty, Avila bats lefty, and Wilson throws lefty. Ron Washington was just playing the platoons. But Ordonez is also bad, while Avila is good, and plus Wilson had been throwing an awful lot of balls. To this objective observer, it seemed like a pretty bad idea.

And then it started to rain again. Really bad.

And so we're into another rain delay. Ordonez walked, and then we went into a delay, before Wilson had a chance to pitch to Avila. Wilson might still pitch to Avila at the other end of this delay, depending on a few things (weather guy says this delay shouldn't be long), but it's funny the way things work out, as one could interpret this delay as God expressing his disappointment with Ron Washington's in-game strategy.

3-2 Rangers, top of the fifth, bases loaded, two out. It's been the top of the fifth for way more than an hour.

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Game 1's So Great, Even Rain Can't Keep It Down

They're telling us that baseball will happen again tonight, perhaps as soon as 9:20 Central.

The commentators on the scene believe that both Justin Verlander and C.J. Wilson will stay in the game, which seems like a good thing for both teams, considering how good both pitchers are.

If you want to get granular, you might suggest this doesn't help the Tigers as much, because Verlander hasn't pitched well tonight. You might also suggest this doesn't help the Rangers as much, because they're perhaps better-equipped to go long in their bullpen, with Alexi Ogando hanging around out there.

My back-of-the-imaginary-envelope calculations suggest that it's a wash, and the impact of the rain delay is essentially equal ... which is a really bad thing for the Tigers, since they're down 3-0 in the fifth inning.

Meanwhile, the delay has given us face time with Ken Rosenthal, Nolan Ryan, Alex Avila, A.J. Pierzynski, and some other of our notable baseball personages. Just think how much the archivists will enjoy this rain delay!

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Rangers vs. Tigers: This Rain Delay Could Be A While

It started sprinkling pretty lightly a few innings ago. Then it got worse. Then it got bad. Ramon Santiago led off the top of the fifth with a line drive double to left, and then it was the groundskeepers' time to shine, as they sprung into action and pulled the tarp over the infield. It was pouring, and the conditions were unplayable.

The rain delay was on, and that's when FOX's weather guy told us it could last a few hours. Here's one image:

Weather_medium

As ominous as that looks, though, the weather is traveling in a northward direction, not an eastward direction. So the ballpark's right on the edge. If that were traveling eastward, oh man, oh man, nope. No more baseball.

As I've been writing this, the rain has lightened, and there's some optimism that the delay could last as little as, say, 30 minutes. That would be way better, and it would even allow Ron Washington and Jim Leyland to keep their starting pitchers in the game, if they wanted. That said, there's just no knowing for sure. The cell that caused this delay wasn't on the radar 15 minutes before it arrived. This could go on for longer, or it could let up and then start again, or...or pretty much anything. Stay tuned! Or don't.

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Rangers vs. Tigers: Nelson Cruz Can Hit Baseballs Far, Rangers Lead 3-0

And that happened:


Verlander_medium


Cruz hit the third pitch of the inning over the left-field fence for a solo home run, and the Rangers now have a 3-0 lead. Couple of notes:

  • A 91 m.p.h. fastball? Yikes. That's Sergio Romo territory. The upward trend is nice, but I think a lot of us underestimated how much the eight innings took out of Verlander in his last start.
  • Nelson Cruz can hit baseballs really far

Verlander doesn't look bad -- and the tight strike zone is just killing him -- but he certainly doesn't look like Verlander quite yet. Tim Welke is forcing him to come in to the middle of the strike zone, and when he's coming in, he doesn't have quite the zip on his fastball that he often does. It's not like this is unusual for Verlander, but the velocity combined with the strike zone is conspiring against Verlander right now.

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Is C.J. Wilson Getting Squeezed, Too?

So the logical response to this post about Justin Verlander getting squeezed by the umpire is, "Fine, but what about C.J. Wilson? Has Tim Welke been squeezing him, too?"

See for yourself:

Wilson1_medium

Tim Welke's just having a really awful night, missing far too many strikes in that lower-right corner, for both pitchers.

Well, we can hope it's just a really awful night. We can hope that if Welke were missing that many strikes all season, he wouldn't have gotten a League Championship Series assignment.

At least tonight it's been roughly the same for both pitchers. Verlander does have a beef, but Wilson's been dealing with the same shitty strike zone and he's pitched four shutout innings.

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Is Justin Verlander Getting Squeezed By Umpire?

Justin Verlander hasn't been thrilled with plate-umpire Tim Welke's strike zone tonight.

Does Verlander have a case? Here's the strike zone for his pitches, via BrooksBaseball.net:

Verlander1_medium

You see what I see? If you believe PITCHf/x -- and from what I've noticed, whatever tool FOX is using -- Verlander's lost six strikes that were inside the strike zone, while gaining none that were outside the zone. When you think about the fine line between success and failure for a pitcher in the major leagues, you might guess how damaging that could be, having a six-strike deficit in just three innings.

Do umpires miss close pitches? All the time. Does this plot suggest that Welke is intentionally squeezing Verlander? Of course not. What it suggests is that when you look at the pitches Welke's missed, the luck has gone completely against Verlander so far. That luck will probably turn around, but the Tigers have to hope it's not too late.

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Adam Sandler's New Movie Looks Fantastic!

One of the great things about live-blogging these games is that we've got a whole team, which leaves me time to noodle on about whatever happens to tickle my interest bone.

For example, the commercial they're running tonight for the new Adam Sandler movie reminds me of  Funny People ... but not in a good way. Instead if made me think of this:

In Judd Apatow‘s Funny People, Adam Sandler‘s character George Simmons is a successful stand-up comic turned comedy star who has appeared in many shitty but successful movies. Apatow was forced to create some of the character's earlier big screen hits. Some of the films appear as posters or whatnot in the background, while others actually feature prominently on screen.

Those fake shitty movies include Merman, Astro-Man, and My Best Friend is a Robot ... and Sandler's actual new movie, Jack & Jill, would fit in perfectly with any of those imaginary crap-fests.

Of course, what's so interesting about this is that in Funny People -- not a great movie but a good one -- Sandler's character seems to understand that he's been making shitty movies, and that maybe there's more to life than making shitty movies. And because you can't help seeing Sandler in his character, you can't help thinking that maybe Sandler himself knows most of his movies are shitty, and that maybe there's more to life...

But this new one looks like the shittiest yet. I don't really blame the guy. He can actually act some. He showed that in Funny People, and also in Punch-Drunk Love.

Those movies didn't pay the bills, though. Shitty movies pay the bills, and Sandler's presumably laughing all the way to the bank. And crying himself to sleep at night.

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Rangers vs. Tigers: We Have A Score, Thanks To David Murphy, Ian Kinsler

C.J. Wilson had to work his way out of a tricky situation in the top of the first. He had to work his way out of a tricky situation in the top of the second, too, when consecutive singles by Jhonny Peralta and Ramon Santiago gave the Tigers two on with one out. A strikeout and a ground out, though, let Wilson off the hook, and kept the Tigers off the board.

Then, in the bottom half, we got our first runs. Against Justin Verlander, of all people. Playoff baseball!

Mike Napoli grounded a single to lead off, which didn't seem so bad until David Murphy got a 2-2 changeup that Verlander left sitting over the heart of the plate. Despite being well in front of things, Murphy still launched it deep into the right-center gap for a triple that put the Rangers in front.

It looked like Verlander would limit the damage there, when he got Mitch Moreland to ground back to the mound. Verlander looked over at Murphy and kept him in place before throwing Moreland out at first.

But the Rangers struck with two outs, as Ian Kinsler shot a single through the hole between first and second. That's where the scoring stopped, but two innings in, it's 2-0 Rangers, and Verlander's thrown 49 pitches already.

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Rangers Waste Prime Shot At Verlander

The bottom of the first inning was sloppy, but sloppy on both sides and the result was yet another scoreless frame for Justin Verlander.

Ian Kinsler led off and walked. Though he stole 30 bases during the regular season, Ron Washington didn't quite trust Kinsler to reach second base on his own, and called for the hit-and-run, which might have worked out nicely except Elvis Andrus failed to connect with an inside fastball and Kinsler was out from here to Laredo.

Andrus didn't exactly redeem himself when he lifted a routine fly to center field ... but at least he hustled enough to reach second base when the ball clanked off Austin Jackson's glove for a two-base error.

Verlander struck out Josh Hamilton, but walked Michael Young. Which brought up Adrian Beltré, who's hit 15 home runs since August turned into September.

Verlander didn't care. Verlander struck out Beltre on a curveball that bounced off the ground -- the ground -- and the Rangers have blown one of the few good opportunities they're likely to get tonight.

After one inning it's still scoreless.

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Rangers vs. Tigers: Early Rallies On Both Sides Fall Short

With Justin Verlander on the mound, you can bet that the Detroit Tigers were hoping for an early lead. Actually, a middle lead would have done just fine. A late lead would have been even better. But an early lead was the goal in the early innings. By definition.

Wait, let me start over.

The point is that the Tigers had a rally in the first inning against C.J. Wilson, and they squandered it. After Austin Jackson made a brief cameo -- the Tigers love including Easter eggs like that for the hardcore fans -- Ryan Raburn ripped a pitch into left field. Miguel Cabrera came up next and did the same thing, even harder. Wilson pitched Victor Martinez carefully, but ended up walking the bases loaded with one out.

That brought up Magglio Ordonez:


G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2011 - Magglio Ordonez 92 329 33 84 10 0 5 32 23 41 2 1 .255 .303 .331


... who hasn't had the best year. He's hitting fifth because it sounds like he should, but it sure seems like his 2010 production is a decade away. Ordonez chopped a ball to Adrian Beltre, who stepped on third, and completed the double play. 

In the bottom of the first, Verlander allowed three runners -- two on walks, and one on a Jackson error -- but struck out Beltre to end the inning. Verlander threw 25 pitches in the first inning; Wilson threw 20. 

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ALCS Preview: Texas Rangers vs. Detroit Tigers

The Rangers and Tigers have five distinct differences between them: ran and ti. Other than that, they're talented teams that are pretty evenly matched.

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Rangers vs. Tigers: Ron Washington's Game 1 Lineup

Rangers manager Ron Washington has posted his Game 1 lineup, which will face Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander tonight in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series.

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

Absolutely no surprises here, as Washington's greatest flexibility comes in left field and first base, and he's installed left-handed hitters in both slots. This righty-heavy lineup does look vulnerable to the right-handed Verlander, but on the other hand a) every lineup looks vulnerable against Verlander, and b) this is how the Rangers have been it all season, and so far it's worked out pretty well for them.

All of Detroit's starting pitchers are right-handed, so it'll be interesting to see if Washington works some of his bench players into the mix somehow, as the series progresses. This is probably his best lineup against righties, with the caveat that Endy Chavez bats lefty like Murphy and is the superior defensive outfielder. So we'll probably see Chavez start at some point.

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