Thursday, October 13, 2011
Tigers go deep to avoid elimination
The Detroit Tigers staved off elimination on Thursday with a 7-5 win over the Texas Rangers at Comerica Park in Game 5. The Tiger bats exploded, scoring more than five runs for the first time this postseason, helped by a team-record four longballs.
The Tigers broke the game open with a four-run sixth inning. Their first four batters singled, doubled, tripled and hit a homer -- batting for the natural cycle. It is the first time in postseason history a team had four straight batters hit for the natural cycle, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Delmon Young hit two homers, becoming the fourth player in franchise history with a postseason multi-homer game. He also joins Hank Greenberg and Craig Monroe as the only Tigers to hit five homers in a postseason career. Monroe and Young both did it in a single postseason.
Justin Verlander got the win to keep the Tigers season alive, allowing four runs over 7⅓ innings. Verlander went 16-3 following a Tigers loss in the regular season. According to Elias, that was the most such wins since Steve Carlton had 19 for the Phillies in 1972.
Miguel Cabrera extended his LCS hitting streak to 12 games with a double in the sixth inning. He now owns the second-longest LCS hit streak all-time to begin a career, one behind Greg Luzinski's 13-game streak, according to Elias.
Nelson Cruz did his best to rally the Rangers, sending a 99.9 mph fastball from Verlander over the fence in the eighth inning. That was the fastest pitch this season to be taken out of a ballfield.
With five homers in this series, Cruz tied a major-league postseason record and became the first player to hit five homers in a single LCS.
The Rangers rotation once again failed to go deep, as no starter has thrown more than six innings in any of their nine postseason games.
Elias reports that only one team has ever had a streak of games in a single postseason like that: the 2005 Angels, who lost in the ALCS, also had nine such games in a row.
The series now returns to Texas for Game 6 on Saturday night. Despite the loss, there is still some good news for Rangers fans: entering this year, teams up 3-1 in a best-of-seven postseason series have won 64 of the 75 series, according to Elias.
Tigers fans also have some good news following Thursday’s win: Elias tells us that the only other time a Tigers team took Game 5 when down 3-1 in a seven-game series was in the 1968 World Series, which they eventually won.