News and notes from around the playoffs:
- There are walk-offs hits, and then there are WALK-OFF HITS, and Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz provided the latter in yesterday's ALCS contest: with the game tied at 3 in the bottom of the 11th, the Rangers loaded the bases with nobody out to bring Cruz to the plate. A deep-ish fly ball would've won the game easily, but Cruz did one -- actually, four -- better, smacking a homer to left field to give Texas a 7-3 win. Cruz's granny was the first walk-off grand slam in postseason history.
- Detroit, meanwhile, heads home to lick its wounds -- both literally and figuratively. The Tigers brought back outfielder Delmon Young, who was supposed to miss the ALCS with an oblique injury, to replace injured right-fielder Magglio Ordonez, but Young was 0-4 in Game 2 and exited in favor of utilityman Don Kelly in the seventh inning.
- The Tigers are facing a two-game deficit as the series shifts to Comerica Park, and they might be facing the right pitcher to get well: Detroit's had a good deal of success against Texas right-hander Colby Lewis, who's scheduled to start Game 3. For its part, Detroit hands the ball to midseason acquisition Doug Fister, who put together a sparkling 4-0 record with a 0.98 ERA at Comerica in 2011.
Texas now holds a 2-0 advantage in the ALCS thanks to its 7-3, 11-inning victory over Detroit. You already know about Nelson Cruz's walk-off grand slam, so here's how things got to that point: the Rangers jumped on Max Scherzer for two runs in the first inning on run-scoring doubles from Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre, respectively, but the Tigers roared back to claim a 3-2 advantage in the third inning on Ryan Raburn's three-run homer. Detroit maintained its advantage until the bottom of the seventh, when Cruz crushed his first homer of the day -- a solo shot off of Scherzer -- to knot the game at 3. The teams traded zeroes for the next three innings, but it took a miraculous escape from Jose Valverde in the ninth inning to keep the score tied: Beltre lead off the bottom of the ninth with a double (that missed being a walk-off homer by about five feet), Valverde intentionally walked Mike Napoli and then hit Cruz on his right forearm to load the bases with nobody out. But Valverde induced a pop up from David Murphy, then got Mitch Moreland to ground into a 3-2-3 double play to escape the jam.
- Say this for Shaun Marcum: when he's bad -- and "bad" is about the kindest adjective you can use to describe his outing last night -- you know it right from the start. Albert Pujols obliterated a batting practice fastball from Marcum for a two-run homer in the first inning, and St. Louis never looked back after that, clobbering Milwaukee, 12-3, to even the NLCS at one game each. Our recap is here.
And the LCS standings read like this:
- Texas 2, Detroit 0.
- Milwaukee 1, St. Louis 1.
On tap for today:
Rangers @ Tigers: Lewis (14-10, 4.40) vs. Fister (11-13, 2.83) at 7:05 p.m. CDT (FOX)