The Detroit Tigers once again showed their resilience and came roaring back on Tuesday night to take Game 3 of the ALCS (5-2) and cut the Texas Rangers’ lead to one game (2-1) in the best-of-seven series.
After losing the first two games of the series in Arlington, the bruised and battered Tigers clawed their way back into the series in must-win Game 3 at Comerica Park. Despite playing without injured outfielders Delmon Young (oblique strain), Magglio Ordonez (broken ankle) and Brennan Boesch (torn thumb ligament), Detroit’s offense erupted behind the bats of Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, Jhonny Peralta and Austin Jackson.
Detroit starter Doug Fister–who closed out the Yankees in the ALDS–put on a pitching clinic on Tuesday, allowing two runs and seven hits with no walks in seven-and-a-third innings. His first nine pitches were strikes, but the Rangers followed with three consecutive singles, including a Josh Hamilton RBI, to take an early 1-0 lead to start the game. Fister escaped the inning without further damage on a double-play grounder by Texas designated hitter Michael Young and striking out third baseman Adrian Beltre. With mid-game adjustments, the 6’8″ right-hander found his groove to hold the Rangers in check, striking out Nelson “Boomstick” Cruz in the seventh to only allow four hits for the rest of the night.
According to ESPN Stats and Information, Texas starter Colby Lewis entered the game 4-0 in five postseason starts, only allowing two runs in those starts. Lewis came out of the gate firing after he struck out his first five batters and stranded three runners in the first three innings. But with one painful swing, Martinez changed the tide of the game. The designated hitter had a strain on the right side of his ribs when he smacked a solo homer to right field off Lewis in the fourth to tie the score at 1-1. The bleeding didn’t stop there. In the bottom of the fifth, the Tigers took the lead on a pitch manager Ron Washington wishes his Rangers ace never threw.
With two out and bases empty in the fifth, Jackson and Ramon Santiago singled to center. Cabrera stepped up to the batters box–having struck out in his previous at bat–and fell behind in the count 0-2. Instead of pitching around the reigning AL batting champ to get back to the hobbled Martinez, Lewis went for the strike out and delivered a 91 mph fastball that was sent deep into right field–just as fast as it came in–for the go-ahead double.
The Tigers went up 2-1 and increased their lead in the sixth. Peralta homered on Lewis’ first pitch to led off the inning and outfielder Andy Dirks chased the tormented pitcher with a two-out single. Texas reliever Koji Uehara replaced Lewis and gave up an RBI single to Jackson as the Tigers extended the lead 4-1. Lewis allowed four runs on eight hits and two walks while striking out six in six innings.
Cabrera capped off the Tigers’ onslaught with a towering homer against Uehara to give them a 5-1 lead in the seventh. Fister gave up a double to the Rangers’ Yorvit Torrealba, who later scored on second baseman Ian Kinsler’s ground out to second against reliever Joaquin Benoit. Detroit’s animated closer, Jose Valverde, earned his third save of the postseason to finish the game 5-2.
Game 4 is Wednesday afternoon at Comerica Park. The Detroit Tigers look to even the series at two games apiece as Rick Porcello will take the mound against the Rangers’ Matt Harrison.