Rangers 7, Tigers 3(11)
The Detroit Tigers failed to take advantage of some risky
strategy by the Texas Rangers with a chance to even up the AL
Instead, Detroit is on the brink of elimination after a 7-3,
11-inning loss in Game 4 on Wednesday night.
MVP candidate Justin Verlander gives the Tigers their last
chance to extend the best-of-seven series and pack their bags for
another game on the road.
”You wouldn’t rather have anybody out there other than Justin
Verlander,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. ”If you win that
game, all of a sudden it gets a little hairy again.”
Texas manager Ron Washington chose to intentionally walk Miguel
Cabrera with nobody on and one out in the eighth inning of a tied
game. Thanks to a strong throw to home plate by Nelson Cruz the
tactic worked wonderfully for the defending AL champions, who are
up 3-1 in the series.
”It almost didn’t,” Washington said. ”But we tried to pitch
around Cabrera twice and he got us. So, this time I wasn’t taking
any chance and it almost came back and bit me.”
It looked as if the Tigers were going to pounce on the rare
opportunity when Victor Martinez followed with a single and Cabrera
advanced to third.
But Delmon Young hit a fly to medium right field and Cruz
unleashed a throw that was on target. Catcher Mike Napoli received
the on-hop throw with plenty of time as Cabrera lumbered home from
third base. Cabrera was out easily, barreling over Napoli to no
Leyland didn’t second-guess the decision by third base coach
Gene Lamont to send Cabrera home.
”I thought it was a great decision,” Leyland said. ”If the
throw is off line, he makes it.”
Leyland also didn’t question his choice of keeping the husky
Cabrera in the game instead of using a quicker pinch-runner with 90
feet separating the Tigers from a 2-all tie in the ALCS.
”I don’t know that anybody would have made it if he threw it on
the money,” Leyland said.
And, not many managers would’ve made the move Washington did
with a playoff game hanging in the balance.
The last time a team intentionally walked the potential winning
or tying run with nobody on and at least one out in the eighth
inning or later in a playoff game was Oct. 22, 2009, according to
That’s when the Los Angeles Angels gave Yankees star Alex
Rodriguez a free pass with two outs in the ninth inning and a
one-run lead in Game 5 of the ALCS. It worked for the Angels, with
some drama, when Nick Swisher hit an inning-ending pop up with the
Detroit’s hopes now rest with Verlander, who will pitch in a
game scheduled to start Thursday afternoon at home, against C.J.
Wilson of the Rangers.
If Verlander helps the Tigers win, the series will shift to
Texas. If not, the AL Central division champions will head to their
offseason homes wondering what they could’ve done differently.
Leyland insisted he did the right thing by putting closer Jose
Valverde in the 3-all game in the 10th inning, which he got out of
perfectly and efficiently, and leaving him in for the 11th when
Cruz hit a no-doubt, three-run homer to essentially seal the
Valverde has pitched more than one inning just twice this year,
both times in the ALCS, with mixed results.
He gave up only one hit and one walk over two innings of the
11-inning loss in Game 2 and was tagged for four runs on three hits
and a walk Wednesday.
What’s clear, though, is Valverde struggles in non-save
situations. He has a 6.83 ERA with five homers allowed in 29 such
outings this year. And he has a 0.52 ERA with just two homers given
up in 52 save opportunities, according to STATS LLC.
”Well, we were down two games to one – you have to give it your
best shot,” Leyland explained. ”That was our best shot.
”Hopefully the big guy (Verlander) can do it,” Leyland