This series is certainly gaining an identity. For the fourth time (twice in Game 1) in four games, the ALCS has been delayed because of rain. For the second time, that bad weather and some plodding game speed has thwarted MLB’s and FOX’s maddening plans of burying the Rangers and Tigers in the mid-afternoon. And, for the second time in four games, Nelson Cruz has hit a bomb in the 11th inning to hand the Rangers a win and help swing the series in their favor.
Game 4 with a rain delay in excess of two hours, and it would be another two hours before Texas got on the board. Down 2-0 in the sixth with Matt Harrison headed out of the game, the Rangers rallied for three runs. David Murphy, Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus and Michael Young strung together a rally that ended with Young’s first RBI and only his fourth hit of the postseason.
Ron Washington turned to Alexi Ogando once again, but Brandon Inge planted a grooved pitch in the seats to tie the game at three in the seventh. Mike Adams, Darren Oliver and Scott Feldman – yes, Scott Feldman again – each threw a scoreless inning to carry us to the 11th, and after getting two innings out of Joaquin Benoit and one from Jose Valverde, Jim Leyland sent Valverde out for a second.
Josh Hamilton led off with a double, and after a Young strikeout the Tigers opted to intentionally walk Adrian Beltre. Mike Napoli came through with the single to plate Hamilton, and Cruz played superhero yet again, blasting another home run to left. This was a three-run shot, and it gave Texas what seemed like an insurmountable 7-3 lead. Neftali Feliz made no mistake in the bottom half, retiring Detroit in seven pitches for his third scoreless outing of the series.
Though Cruz’s home runs supplied big margins, the Rangers now lead the series 3-1 on two extra inning games and the tight one-run win in Game 1. Game 5 is scheduled for 3:19 Thursday, as the Rangers will try to book their second straight trip to the World Series. To do it, they’ll have to beat Justin Verlander for a second time – this time in Detroit. C.J. Wilson will look to get his postseason on track, after struggling in Game 1 of the ALDS and ALCS. If we’re lucky, the game will last long enough to cancel yet another attempt at airing the X-Factor.