American League Championship Series
10/13/11: Game 5 – Texas Rangers at Detroit Tigers
C.J. Wilson vs. Justin Verlander
With a 3-1 series lead, the Texas Rangers are looking to put the final nail in the coffin of the 2011 Detroit Tigers. Unfortunately for the Rangers, they must go through Triple Crown Winner, likely Cy Young Winner, and MVP Candidate Justin Verlander to do it. I don’t like to call games before they’ve been played (especially in this series, where the Tigers have now blown two leads), but Justin Verlander has been an almost guaranteed win this season…as long as he actually gets to pitch. With both the ALDS and ALCS Game 1 being rainouts that knocked Verlander out before he could finish either start, he’s only had one full start in the postseason. You better believe he’s looking for a second one, and to keep his team in this contest until the very end.
Verlander gave up some earned runs in his last outing against the Rangers. But it was too short to really get a look at him. Likewise, C.J. Wilson couldn’t stay out long enough to get a solid look. But in the short outings, both seemed to be in pretty good shape. Wilson had bounced back from his big loss against the Rays in the ALDS, and Verlander was looking to continue the success he’d had all year long. Today is dry, the sun is out, and both pitchers are on a mission. You better believe that this is going to be one heck of a match up. I will always give the edge to Verlander, but it’s still going to be pretty damn tight all the way to the end.
- Kinsler (2B)
- Andrus (SS)
- Hamilton (CF)
- Young (DH)
- Beltre (3B)
- Napoli (C)
- Cruz (RF)
- Murphy (LF)
- Moreland (1B)
- Jackson (CF)
- Raburn (RF)
- Cabrera (1B)
- Martinez (DH)
- Young (LF)
- Peralta (SS)
- Inge (3B)
- Avila (C)
- Santiago (2B)
No real surprises with either of these lineups. I don’t know for sure if this is how Texas will line up today, but it seems likely. After all, why not put the same lineup out there that played fairly well against Verlander in four innings on Saturday. Of course, Yorvit Torrealba has been pretty good the last two games, and there’s always the possibility that he’ll get penciled in for a third time around.
The Tigers’ lineup, on the other hand, I already saw this morning. That’s the way it’ll be set up, and it’s really not surprising anymore. Young has been taken out of the three hole because of his injury. Avila has been dropped in the order because his bat is cold (not his fault). And Brandon Inge is out to face another lefty (he also probably earned some brownie points with that bomb last night). So that’s the way the Tigers will line up. (Sorry to all you Don Kelly fans that think he should the every day third baseman by now.)
Keys to the Game:
TEX—Just play it easy. Go up to the plate and have fun. You’re one win away from going to the World Series, and even if the Tigers win today, you’re still one win away, AND you’re heading back home to get said win. So just have fun with the game today. No pressure whatsoever.
DET—Get a lead and hang onto it with whatever life you have left. If you do not put up runs for Verlander, and Texas goes to their bullpen, you will lose. Don’t disappoint these fans today. Go back to Texas, and win both. Now make it happen.
It’s hard to bet against Verlander if he gets to pitch a full outing (six-seven innings). In fact, I won’t bet against him. I think the Tigers will for sure win this one, due in no small part to Verlander’s performance. They’ll head back to Texas for Game 6, and hopefully Game 7 this weekend.