News and notes from around the playoffs:
- On a day when his team needed him the most, Tigers ace Justin Verlander answered the bell in a big way: the big right-hander worked 7.1 innings in Detroit's 7-5 win over the Rangers, giving up eight hits and three hits while fanning eight ... on 133 pitches. That heavy workload means that Verlander likely won't be available if the series goes to seven games, but with their backs against the wall and the bullpen fried, the Tigers had no alternative in Game 5.
- The Tigers needed Verlander to bear the burden because set-up man Joaquin Benoit and closer Jose Valverde were both off limits in Game 5 after each man worked three days in a row, with hefty pitch counts to boot.
- Verlander was very good in Game 5, but even he couldn't figure out what to do with Rangers slugger Nelson Cruz, who clanked Verlander's 133rd offering off the foul pole in left field for a two-run homer in the eighth inning. That was Cruz's fifth homer of the ALCS, which, as you'd probably expect, is a record.
- It wouldn't be the ALCS if we didn't have an injury note: Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton, who had an impressive day at the dish yesterday (2-for-4 with a single, a double, and a sac fly), says he's been dealing with a painful strain of his groin for the last month, and the injury is preventing him from driving the ball like he normally does.
Detroit sent the ALCS back to Texas with a roller coaster 7-5 victory over Texas at Comerica Park. The Rangers grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first inning on Josh Hamilton's sac fly, but the Tigers roared back with a pair of solo homers -- from Alex Avila in the third and Delmon Young in the fourth -- to take a 2-1 lead. Hamilton had a run-scoring single to knot the score at 2 in the fifth, but the Tigers seized control with four sixth-inning runs, aided by a couple of fortunate bounces: Miggy Cabrera's tapper to third hit the edge of the third base bag and skipped over Adrian Beltre's head for a double and Victor Martinez followed with a blooper to right that snuck past Nelson Cruz for an RBI triple. Young then added his second homer of the day to make it 6-2, and the Tigers survived some tense moments in the ninth to claim their second win of the series.
- Behind a stellar outing from Randy Wolf and run-scoring base hits from Ryan Braun, Jerry Hairston, Jr., and a white-hot Yuniesky Betancourt, Milwaukee rallied for a 4-2 win over St. Louis at Busch Stadium. Our recap is here.
The LCS standings read like this:
- Texas 3, Detroit 2.
- St. Louis 2, Milwaukee 2.
On tap for today:NLCS Game 5: Brewers @ Cardinals: Greinke (16-6, 3.83) vs. Garcia (13-7, 3.56) at 7:05 p.m. CDT (TBS)