Rangers win over Tigers in twice-delayed ALCS
Sunday, October 9, 2011
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — After the rain, the Texas Rangers opened the AL championship series by beating Justin Verlander for the second time this year.
Nelson Cruz broke a postseason slump with a home run that helped boost the Rangers over the Tigers 3-2 Saturday night as rain followed the Detroit ace and caused nearly two hours of delays.
The defending AL champion Rangers scored all their runs off Verlander before the game was interrupted twice for a total of 1 hour, 50 minutes in the top of the fifth. The final out wasn’t until 12:03 a.m. CDT.
David Murphy hit an RBI single in the second and scored on Ian Kinsler’s single, and Cruz’s leadoff homer in the fourth made it 3-0.
In between the delays, Austin Jackson doubled in a run and scored on a wild pitch by Rangers starter C.J. Wilson. Alexi Ogando, who got all three of the Rangers’ regular-season wins over Detroit this year, pitched two scoreless innings for the victory. Neftali Feliz, clocked at up to 101 mph, worked the ninth for his fourth save this postseason.
Game 2 is Sunday night. Derek Holland starts for Texas against Max Scherzer, who pitched 1 1-3 innings in relief for the Tigers in their AL division series clincher Thursday night against the New York Yankees.
Texas faced Verlander only once during the regular season, a 2-0 Rangers’ win on April 11 when Verlander lost despite pitching a six-hitter.
The likely AL Cy Young Award winner was 3-0 with a 1.29 ERA in his three previous career starts at hitter-friendly Rangers Ballpark, allowing three runs in 21 innings. Texas matched that run total in four innings when it counted most.
Verlander threw one inning and 25 pitches in the division series opener at Yankee Stadium on Sept. 30 when that game was suspended by rain. Under a rules change adopted two years ago, postseason games are suspended when called instead of being cut short or wiped out.
Verlander came back and started Game 3, winning as he threw 120 pitches over eight innings, and he threw 82 pitches in four innings against the Rangers before the first delay.
The Rangers, in their second consecutive ALCS after never winning a postseason series before last year, left two runners on base in the first.
Mike Napoli led off the Texas second with a single, then scored when Murphy got the head of his bat on a low pitch and pulled it into the right-center gap, where the ball one-hopped the wall.
Cruz’s drive leading off the fourth ended an 0-for-10 postseason slump and was his Rangers-record seventh postseason homer, one more than two-time AL MVP Juan Gonzalez.
Before the fifth inning, Rangers Ballpark groundskeeper Dennis Klein went out and spoke with plate umpire Tim Welke about the weather. There had already been a couple of short periods of rain before then.
A few minutes later, after Ramon Santiago led off the fifth with a double and while Brandon Inge was batting with a 1-0 count against Wilson, the intensity of the rain picked up. Welke then stopped the game for the first time and had the field covered.
Play was stopped for 41 minutes but the teams got only 13 minutes in before the tarp came out again. In between the delays, the Tigers scored twice and loaded the bases with two outs.
The rain delays were the first at Rangers Ballpark since May 24. This season was played during one of the hottest and driest summers ever in North Texas, including 27 games when the temperature was 100 degrees or more at first pitch.
Wilson, who had thrown 72 pitches before the first delay, threw 24 more during the short resumption.
On the first pitch after play resumed, Inge grounded out. Jackson followed with a double that rolled into a puddle by the wall in right-center field and scored Santiago. Jackson eventually scored on a wild pitch while Wilson loaded the bases on three walks before heavy rain started falling again.
Michael Gonzalez replaced Wilson and needed only two pitches to induce an inning-ending groundout by Alex Avila.
Ogando, a reliver-turned-starter who is back in the bullpen in the playoffs, struck out three over the sixth and seventh innings. While he was beating the Tigers during the regular season, the other Rangers pitchers combined to go 0-6.
When Jackson struck out to end the sixth, Ogando hopped off the mound slapping his glove. He had a similar reaction when Martinez struck out to end the seventh.
Rick Porcello, Detroit’s scheduled Game 4 starter, had two scoreless innings after replacing Verlander.