Justin Verlander, Tigers again halted by rain
Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers were delayed by rain in the opener of a playoff series again - twice.
Game 1 of the AL championship series between the Tigers and Texas Rangers resumed after two rain delays in the top of the fifth inning Saturday night.
The first delay was 41 minutes long. Then, 13 minutes after play resumed, umpires halted the game again, this time for 1 hour, 9 minutes.
Detroit scored twice after the first resumption to close to 3-2, and the Tigers had the bases loaded with two outs against starter C.J. Wilson when play was halted again.
Verlander had thrown one inning and 25 pitches in the division series opener at Yankee Stadium on Sept. 30 when that game was suspended. 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, which he won, and threw 82 pitches against the Rangers before the delay.
When play resumed the second time Saturday night, at 10:45 p.m. CDT, lefty Michael Gonzalez replaced Wilson on the mound to face the left-handed-hitting Alex Avila with the bases loaded. There was no count on Avila, who hit an inning-ending groundout.
Rick Porcello, the scheduled starter for Game 4, took over for the Tigers in the bottom of the fifth.
After the fourth inning, Rangers Ballpark groundskeeper Dennis Klein went out and spoke with plate umpire Tim Welke about the weather. There had already been some short periods of light rain.
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 C.J. Wilson, the intensity of the rain picked up. Welke then stopped the game for the first time, with Texas up 3-0, and had the field covered.
On the first pitch after play resumed, Inge grounded out. Austin Jackson followed with an RBI double and eventually scored on a wild pitch, while Wilson loaded the bases with three walks. Magglio Ordonez had just drawn his walk when heavy rain started falling again, and play was stopped.
These were the first rain delays at Rangers Ballpark since May 24. This season was played during one of the hottest and driest summers in North Texas, including 27 games when the temperature was 100 degrees or more at the first pitch.
Wilson struck out six and benefited from two inning-ending double plays. He threw 72 pitches before the first break, and 24 more during the short resumption before the second delay.
Texas took a 2-0 lead in the second on an RBI triple by David Murphy before he scored on Ian Kinsler's single.
Nelson Cruz homered leading off the fourth, ending an 0-for-10 postseason slump. It was his seventh postseason homer, a Rangers record and one more than Juan Gonzalez had.
Verlander struck out five with two walks while throwing 82 over the first four innings.
Both of Verlander's walks came in the first, when he also struck out Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre to avoid giving up a run even after center fielder Jackson made an error when a flyball by Elvis Andrus hit off the heel of his glove.