Saturday, October 15, 2011
Rangers push for pennant in Texas
By Katie Sharp
The ALCS returns to Rangers Ballpark in Arlington for Game 6 tonight as the Texas Rangers look to clinch a berth in the Fall Classic.
With a win, the Rangers will be just the fifth team to win the ALCS in consecutive seasons. The select group they’ll join includes the Orioles (1969-1971), Athletics (1972-1974 and 1988-1990), Blue Jays (1992-1993) and the Yankees (1998-2001).
The Tigers will need to overcome history to make it to their second World Series in the last 25 seasons. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, teams trailing 3-2 in a best-of-seven series have emerged as winners just 27 times and have lost 62 series.
On the Mound
The Rangers send lefty Derek Holland to the mound tonight, who is coming off the shortest postseason start in franchise history when he allowed three runs on four hits in just 2⅔ innings in Game 2.
One issue for Holland in that game was that he left too many pitches up in the zone. Half of his 76 pitches were in the upper third of the zone or above, his second-highest percentage in a start this season. Two of the four hits he allowed were on those pitches, including a three-run homer by Ryan Raburn.
The Tigers give the ball to Max Scherzer, hoping that he can give them another strong outing and force a decisive Game 7. Scherzer is 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA in three postseason games this year.
Scherzer was knocked out of his ALCS Game 2 start in the seventh inning when Nelson Cruz sent a 94-mph fastball over the fence. The Rangers have pounded his heater this season, slugging over .600 in at-bats ending in the pitch over four games.
The Texas rotation, which ranked third in the AL in ERA and fifth in innings pitched in the regular season, has been inconsistent in October. No started has gone more than six innings in any of their nine postseason games, which matches the 2005 Angels for the longest streak of its kind within a postseason.
The Rangers bullpen has pitched 23 of the 47 innings in the LCS and has carried the team with a 1.17 ERA, compared to a 6.38 ERA by the starters. That would be the lowest ERA by any team in a single League Championship series all-time (min. 20 IP).
Players to Watch
Miguel Cabrera has played in 12 LCS games and has a hit in all of them, batting .348 in 46 career at-bats. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that’s the second-longest LCS hit streak to start a career by any player, behind Greg Luzinski who it in his first 13 LCS games from 1976-1980.
Nelson Cruz has homered in four of the seven games in his career in which the Rangers had an opportunity to clinch a postseason series, according to Elias. Cruz has a .320 (8-for-25) batting average in those seven games.