American League Championship Series – Game 6 Preview

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American League Championship Series

            10/15/11: Game 6 – Detroit Tigers at Texas Rangers

            Max Scherzer vs. Derek Holland

 

Do or die time for the Tigers in Game 6.  Of course, it was do or die time in Game 5 as well.  But Tigers lived to fight another day, and that day is today.  Max Scherzer looks to turn in the performance of a lifetime to even out the series and force Game 7.  But to do it he’ll have to go through a Rangers’ lineup that got three runs off of him in Game 2, and ultimately won that game.  On the other side will be Derek Holland.  He’ll try to bounce back from a 2 2/3 inning start in Game 2, which turned out much better for him than it should have been.  Holland threw plenty of pitches in that outing, but only gave up three earned runs.  Both pitchers want to turn in outstanding performances and give their respective teams a win.

The Rangers hit Scherzer fairly well in his last start, even though they too were only able to pick up three earned runs.  Their hitting simply came in the form of picking away at Max and the defense until there was no choice but to take him out.  Hopefully, Scherzer can keep things together today long enough to turn in seven-plus inning for the Tigers.

Holland, on the other hand, just needs to last more than three innings.  For the Tigers’ sake, not his team’s.  With the way the Rangers’ bullpen has been pitching, I don’t want to see Ogando or Feldman or Adams again.  Not without a colossal lead to go with it.  So let’s see Holland in the game for about seven innings, giving up eight hits and five earned runs.  I think a 5-0 or 5-1 lead will suffice to get the Tigers a win.

Potential Lineups:

TEX—

  1. Kinsler (2B)
  2. Andrus (SS)
  3. Hamilton (CF)
  4. Young (DH)
  5. Beltre (3B)
  6. Napoli (C)
  7. Cruz (RF)
  8. Murphy (LF)
  9. Moreland (1B)

DET—

  1. Jackson (CF)
  2. Raburn (RF)
  3. Cabrera (1B)
  4. Martinez (DH)
  5. Young (LF)
  6. Peralta (SS)
  7. Inge (3B)
  8. Avila (C)
  9. Santiago (2B)

This Texas lineup was the exact one used against Scherzer in Game 2, so there’s no reason to think that it’ll change now.  After all, it did have decent success against him hitting wise.  I would like to see Scherzer give Nelson Cruz an 0-4 outing, though.  He’s like the Robinson Cano of Texas, apparently.  Who puts up five home runs one series?  Someone who’s seeing waaaaaaaaaaay too many pitches to hit, that’s who.

The Tigers’ side could use that lineup, but Delmon Young also showed in Game 5 that if there were any lingering oblique problems for his bat, they’re long since gone.  So that may move him back into his number three spot and slide Cabrera and Martinez down in the lineup.  Alex Avila is another mystery.  Now that he’s hit a home run, do you take your chances with him and let him hit back in his six spot again?  Or do you let Peralta, Inge, or Raburn take that spot for the time being, since all three have had better bats during this series?  Probably the latter option, but you just never know.  Leyland has a lot of faith in his players, and the minute they show signs of getting back to normal, he’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and put them back in their normal spots.  Of course, it’s a do or die situation for the Tigers tonight, so who knows.  Play to win, not to be loved by everyone.  If you win, then you will be loved by everyone.

Keys to the Game:

TEX—Which Max Scherzer will show up?  If it’s the good one, then they’ll have to really put the pressure on and pile up the little hits for RBIs as they cycle through the order.  If it’s the bad one, then they’ll really have to make him pay as early as possible.  Knock him out, and you can bet your bullpen can beat the Tigers’ bullpen.  The Rangers also need to take full advantage of the home crowd tonight.  They’re one win away from going to the World Series, and the hometown crowd knows it.  The atmosphere will be electric, in the Rangers’ favor.  So use it.  Get pumped, stay pumped, and don’t count yourselves out, no matter what the scoreboard says.

DET—Holland was far from crisp in his last outing, so turn this into Ivan Nova, Part Two.  The team didn’t see Holland all year, and they only got a couple of looks at him during Game 2.  Now that they’ve seen him, though, make the proper adjustments and really rock him.  Perhaps to the tune of back-to-back home runs in the first inning.  Either way, the offense is going to have to show up again.  You’re not going to get away with Game 6 unless you put up the runs.  Save the pitching duel for Game 7, because Fister can win that no problem.

Predictions:

This one is really tough to call.  Do I think Max and the Tigers can tie things up tonight?  Of course.  They’re the same team that went on a 12-game winning streak in September.  They’re just slumping with fatigue a little right now.  But it’s the same team, and they can come alive at any minute.  Knowing that it’s a do or die situation could help.  But the Rangers have the home field, they have the energy, and they have the lead.  They simply need one win to make a return trip to the World Series.  And that alone is all the motivation a team should need to grab victory.  I think it’s too close to call right now, and could see the game going either way.  I know I want it to go well for the Tigers, but watching this Texas team for the last week has certainly shown that they’re not to be trifled with.  Either team could win tonight, and both have plenty to fight for.  So let the chips fall where they may, and may the best team win.

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  1. Pingback: Before Visiting The Sportsbook - New Content Added: Week of October 9th

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