MLB

ALCS: Mother Nature takes center stage

Rosenthal Game 1 recap: How does rain affect decisions for rest of series?
Rosenthal Game 1 recap: How does rain affect decisions for rest of series?
Share This Story

Ken Rosenthal

Ken Rosenthal has been the FOXSports.com's Senior MLB Writer since August 2005. He appears weekly on MLB on FOX, FOX Sports Radio and MLB Network. He's a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter.

MORE>>
 
   
 

ARLINGTON, Texas

The most dominant player in the Tigers’ postseason is not right-hander Justin Verlander, but that crusty old spitballer, Mother Nature.

And she might not be finished yet.

More rain is forecast for Game 2 of the American League Championship Series on Sunday (coverage starts at 7 p.m. ET on FOX), as if the combined 1-hour, 50-minute delay in the top of the fifth inning Saturday night wasn’t enough.

Tigers manager Jim Leyland, speaking after his team’s 3-2 loss to the Rangers, said he would huddle with his coaches to determine his rotation for the rest of the series.

My advice to Leyland: Write in pencil. Keep an eraser handy. And prepare to implement Plan B, or Plan C, or whatever.

The postseason, at least for the Tigers, is turning into a bizarre blend of baseball and improvisational theater.

Game 1 actually was something of a classic, a spectacular duel of bullpens after the rain knocked out Verlander and compromised Rangers lefty C.J. Wilson.

Verlander, the game’s best pitcher, has now had two of his three postseason starts disrupted by downpours.

Raul Ibanez

SCREEN TIME

Hollywood is in love with America's pastime. See which movies about baseball hit a home run.

“If any part of the country has a drought, bring me in and I’ll fix it,” Verlander said.

Texas actually had been in the middle of a historic drought. Verlander showed up, the skies opened and he was gone after four innings — and not particularly effective innings, seeing as how he allowed three runs.

Leyland did not rule out bringing back Verlander on three days rest in Game 4, but what would be the point? Verlander threw 82 pitches. His command was off. Now is not the time for him to pitch on short rest for the first time in his career.

The Tigers’ scheduled Game 4 starter is right-hander Rick Porcello, who threw 22 pitches in relief of Verlander after showing up at Rangers Ballpark expecting to do nothing but spit sunflower seeds. Porcello said he would be fine to pitch again in Game 4.

The Rangers face no such decisions — Wilson threw 96 pitches, and will simply remain on schedule to start Game 5, according to Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux.

“If we stay on schedule, nothing changes,” Maddux said, choosing his words carefully, knowing that the schedule may indeed change.

Wilson rebounded nicely from a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the first, ending that threat with a double play and then pitching three more scoreless innings, striking out the side in the fourth.

The first, 41-minute delay came after a leadoff double by the Tigers’ Ramon Santiago in the fifth.

“It sucked,” Wilson said. “I felt like I was in a groove. After the first inning, I really started to settle in.”

Wilson, at least, had the chance to pitch again. But he gave up another double and three walks, one intentional, allowing the Tigers to close within 3-2 before the second 1-hour, 9-minute interruption.

Verlander, on the other hand, said he corrected a flaw in his mechanics while throwing indoors during the first delay and threw seven or eight perfect pitches in a row.

Only he never returned.

“When the original (delay) hit, he was actually coming back out,” Leyland said. “When the second one came about, that was a no-brainer.”

EVASIVE MANEUVER

Watch Yankees' Ichiro wiggle away from Orioles' Matt Wieters' tag in Game 2 of the ALDS.

Most teams will not allow their starters to return from a delay of more than an hour. This one went well beyond that, and Leyland is adamant about protecting his pitchers.

As it turned out, the vaunted starters — one the best pitcher in the game, the other a coveted free-agent-to-be — were the only pitchers in the game to allow runs.

The Tigers’ bullpen worked four scoreless innings. The Rangers’ worked 4 1/3, getting particularly strong work from Alexi Ogando, who pitched two hitless innings, striking out three, and closer Neftali Feliz, who touched 101 mph and struck out the side in the ninth inning after a leadoff bunt single by Santiago — the only hit the Rangers’ bullpen allowed.

The return of Ogando to the ‘pen makes the group that much stronger, while the Tigers’ loss of No. 3 hitter Delmon Young for the series with a strained left oblique leaves their lineup notably weaker.

Right fielder Magglio Ordonez, batting fifth behind Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez in Leyland’s revamped lineup, hit into a double play and struck out in his only two official at-bats. Catcher Alex Avila, since tweaking his knee in Game 3 of the Division Series, is 1-for-12.

The first four hitters in the Rangers’ order weren’t much better, going 1-for-14 with two walks in Game 1. But as Wilson said, “Our lineup is insane. It’s crazy, like a slow-pitch softball team.”

MORE ON THE TIGERS

FOX Sports Detroit has the latest on the American League champs.

Right fielder Nelson Cruz, the No. 7 hitter, ended a lengthy slump by hitting a home run off Verlander. Left fielder David Murphy, the No. 8 hitter, hit an RBI triple.

For one game, the Rangers looked like the better club, but check back after Tigers right-hander Max Scherzer faces Rangers lefty Derek Holland in Game 2.

If there is a Game 2.

Mother Nature has the ball in her hands.

Tagged: Tigers, Rangers, C.J. Wilson, Justin Verlander

More Stories From Ken Rosenthal

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by



SimLeague Baseball - Simulation Baseball Game

More Than Sports on MSN

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Nike New York Yankees Practice T-Shirt - Ash http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_New_York_Yankees/browse/featuredproduct/606363/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_606000/ff_606363_xl.jpg&w=100 27.95 Nike New York Yankees Practice T-Shirt - Ash
    Majestic Detroit Tigers 2012 MLB American League Champions Clubhouse Locker Room T-Shirt - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Detroit_Tigers/browse/featuredproduct/1064043/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1064000/ff_1064043_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Majestic Detroit Tigers 2012 MLB American League Champions Clubhouse Locker Room..
    Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker Room T-Shirt - Gray http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1067359/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1067000/ff_1067359_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker R..
    Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker Room Pullover Hoodie - Steel http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1067382/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1067000/ff_1067382_xl.jpg&w=100 54.95 Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker R..
    New Era San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker Room 39THIRTY Flex Hat - Charcoal/Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1067785/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1067000/ff_1067785_xl.jpg&w=100 31.95 New Era San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker Ro..
    Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Glory T-Shirt - Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1068294/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1068000/ff_1068294_xl.jpg&w=100 21.95 Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Glory T-Shirt - Bl..
    Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Batting Practice Performance Jersey - Black/Orange http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1068787/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1068000/ff_1068787_xl.jpg&w=100 94.95 Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Batting Practice P..