Boom Boom Pow

16 10 2011

Recap: Rangers 15  Tigers 5

As Nelson Cruz hit yet another home run last night, giving the Rangers a total of 15 runs for the game, which is one less run than they had for the entire Rays series, I could only say one thing: wow. And poor Verlander.

In a game that many believed would follow suit with the rest of the ALCS and be a competitive game with a lot of drama, the Rangers decided to take the game in another direction. Not just a different direction, but 180 degrees the other way.

The Tigers started the game by getting the upper hand on the Rangers, but  the lead was a little misleading as the runs were produced with minimal hits. Miguel Cabrera had a solo home run in the first inning, and Johnny Peralta followed that up with a home run of his own in the second inning. Other than these two home runs, the Tigers had not had one man on base through the first two innings.

The Rangers, on the other hand, decided to have a coming out party in the 3rd inning, trailing 2-0. The Rangers became nothing short of unstoppable. In an inning with no home runs, the Tigers were forced to cycle through four – count ’em, four – as Leyland tried everything he could to stop the bleeding. The oddest part of the inning was when Rick Porcello intentionally walked Josh Hamilton, who hadn’t hit a home run in thirteen games and was struggling of late, to put Michael Young, who had just hit a double, at the plate. Well, he gave the Tigers the taste of another double on the other side of the field. The 9 runs the Rangers racked up in this inning are the most the Rangers franchise has ever had in a postseason game, while these 9 runs the Tigers allowed are the most the Tigers franchise has ever given up in a postseason game. The game was pretty much over at this point.  The Tigers’ body language and the Arlington crowd were prime indications of where this game was headed.

Holland would throw his last pitch in the 5th inning when he allowed another home run to put the score at 9-4. Only allowing 4 hits disregarding the 3 home runs he gave up, Holland was not as bad as his stats show; he just needs to work on not giving up the big plays.

Once Derek’s time was up, Feldman did his job and finished off the inning with a Ryan Raburn pop-up, thanks to Josh Hamilton making one of his off the wall catches that makes the entire Rangers nation hold their collective breath.

The next three innings were filled with more runs for the Rangers, gathering 1,2, and 3 runs in each successive inning. During that 7th inning in which 3 runs were scored, the only Rangers’ home runs of the game occurred, and speaking of piling it on, Cruz decided to pound another one into the stands, increasing his already set MLB record of home runs in one series to 6.

There was one bright spot for the Tigers, when Miguel Cabrera collected his second home run in the 8th inning. Hitting in 13 straight League Championship Series games, he sits behind only Manny Ramirez and Pete Rose (15) for the all-time record.

Even with this last gasp for breath, Feldman, Ogando, and Adams were able to show why their bullpen has emerged as one of the strongest bullpens in the league. They held the Tigers in their cage and showed why they should be feared. Many times, teams must rely on their starting pitchers to go as far into the game as they can, so the bullpen does not have too large of a load to handle. Texas seems to be an anomaly. Their bullpen grabbed the win for the Rangers in every game for this series, and if I had to give a runner-up for ALCS MVP, mine would go to Alexi Ogando (2-0), who has been in complete command of his pitches.

The end mercifully came for the Tigers once the score reached 15-4 and Feliz closed the game out. Ironically, I couldn’t help but compare this blowout finish to a great pre-championship series similar to how the Mavericks demolished the Lakers 122-86 right on their way to the NBA Finals.

The Rangers celebrated their AL Championship for a second year in a row, and only the New York Yankees have won consecutive AL pennants since the MLB realignment in the mid-90s. This is a telling statistic for me, because it proves something significant – the Rangers are the real deal. Last year was not a fluke, and the Rangers look to be building a perennial team full of winners.

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