Nelson Cruz and Mike Napoli were the stars -- both offensively and defensively -- as the Texas Rangers beat the Detroit Tigers 7-3 in 11 innings. The Rangers are one win away from their second straight World Series appearance.
Elias tells us it’s the sixth outfield assist at home plate to preserve a tie in the eighth inning or later in postseason history. The last one that was part of a double play came in the 1975 World Series.
Elias also says that Napoli is the first player since both leagues began recording caught stealings in 1951 to throw out a runner attempting to steal and drive in the game-winning run in the same postseason game, both in extra innings.
Here's how it unfolded.
Cruz to Napoli in the eighth inning
CruzThe Rangers intentionally walked Miguel Cabrera with one out and nobody on base, and Victor Martinez followed with a single to put runners at first and third for Delmon Young. It was only the 10th free pass in postseason history with nobody on -- and the previous nine all came with two outs.
When Young lifted a fly ball to right field, Cruz threw a one-hop strike to the plate. Cabrera plowed into Napoli, who held on to the ball to preserve the tie and end the inning.
There were only three intentional walks with nobody on base this year during the regular season, and none of the on-deck hitters were the caliber of Martinez. Chris Coghlan, Geovany Soto and Adam Lind were the on-deck hitters in the three regular-season instances, which all came with two outs.
NapoliNapoli in the 10th inning
The game went to extra innings and in the 10th, the speedy Austin Jackson -- a career 81 percent base-stealer -- was hit by a pitch with one out. Napoli, who had thrown out 36 percent of would-be base stealers during the regular season, threw Jackson out attempting to steal second base and the game eventually headed to the 11th.
Napoli then Cruz in the 11th inning
The Tigers intentionally walked Adrian Beltre with one out and a runner on second to get to Napoli. The Rangers catcher grounded into double plays in 11 percent of his opportunities this season, right in line with the American League average. Jose Valverde, who was on the mound, recorded double plays in just seven percent of his chances.
Nelson Cruz 2011 ALCS
Napoli singled in the go-ahead run and Cruz followed with a three-run home run, his 10th of his postseason career and fourth of the series.
Two of them have come in the 11th inning where Cruz has done nearly all of his damage.
He’s the first player with two extra-inning home runs in the same postseason series and only the fourth ever with two in the a postseason career. He’s got 10 homers in 24 postseason games -- only Carlos Beltran had more in 24 games or got to 10 faster (according to Elias).