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Thursday, October 13, 2011
Matchup: C.J. Wilson vs. Justin Verlander

By Jeff Caplan



DETROIT -- The aces are back for pivotal Game 5. The Texas Rangers hope LHP C.J. Wilson can regain his late-season form and, well, the Detroit Tigers would like to see their top gun, RHP Justin Verlander find his shutdown stuff as well. Neither pitcher has been dominant in the postseason. Wilson hasn't secured a win and has walked six in 9 2/3 innings over two starts. Verlander has allowed eight earned runs in 13.0 innings.

Here's a closer look at the two pitchers:

Wilson (0-1, 7.45 ERA): The lefty worked hard to finish the season with an ERA under 3.oo, so allowing 10 runs -- eight earned -- and 13 hits in just 9 2/3 postseason innings is beyond surprising. He's been plagued by familiar problems, however, and that's shaky command that's resulted in high pitch counts and six free passes. In Game 1 of the ALCS, Wilson threw more than 90 pitches 4 2/3 innings. He managed to escape big trouble in the first and second innings of that game, but five walks sealed his fate. He was also a victim of weather that night. He found his command in the fourth inning, but after the first 41-minute rain delay in the fifth, he was cooked. In his Game 1 ALDS start, Wilson gave up three home runs and was tagged for eight runs, six unearned.

Verlander (1-1, 5.54 ERA): The Rangers touched up Verlander early in Game 1 with a couple runs in the second inning. Two rain delays in the fifth inning ended his night prematurely after giving up three runs on five hits, including a homer, and two walks. He struck out five. to be fair to Verlander, he's had a tough go with the weather. Game 1 of the ALCS was washed out after an inning, he threw a rollercoaster Game 3 with a shaky start and a dominating middle, lost the lead late, and managed to go eight innings in the 5-4 win. Verlander has struck out 17 in 13.0 postseason innings, but he's also walked seven, a high number for a guy who walked just 57 in 251.0 innings.

Hitters: Denton-native Austin Jackson stroked a double off C.J. Wilson in Game, the only run Wilson allowed on an actual hit (the second came home on a wild pitch). Ramon Santiago also doubled. Ryan Raburn has had success against Wilson with two hits in three at-bats, including a double. ... In regular-season matchups, Verlander limited Texas to a .211 batting average. Michael Young had two hits in four at-bats and only Young and Mitch Moreland, who may or not get another shot in the lineup, took Verlander for extra bases. In Game 1, David Murphy tripled in a run and Nelson Cruz homered. Mike Napoli, Ian Kinsler and Adrian Beltre all singled.