The Rangers have out bullpenned, out run, and out fielded the Tigers through 4 games of this series. But that’s through 4, and this is a 7 game series. There’s a reason for that.
None of the Tigers losses have been lopsided (tack on runs excluded), and they have had distinct opportunities to win each of those games in the late/extra innings. They just haven’t had that hero. But that doesn’t prohibit a hero from stepping up tonight.
Candidate #1: Justin Verlander. At best, Verlander has been below average this post-season, at worst, he’s been…bad. Heavy words for the 2011 AL CY Young Winner (and perhaps MVP). But I think we can all agree that his postseason 1.38 WHIP and 5.54 ERA is unusual, and unsustainable. Verlander has twice been victimized by rain shortened starts, but JV would be the last guy to use that as an excuse. JV was a strong 16-3 following a Tigers loss this season and I’ve got a feeling that he gets to a fast 17-3 tonight.
Candidate #2: Justin Verlander. This has been the best season by a pitcher in decades, he’s just not going to go out like that, especially not fresh from the shorter fight last time out.
Candidate #3: Alex Avila. Alex knows this may be his last chance in front of the home crowd.
Here’s my honest prediction. The Tigers sure win this one walking away. They have been just a hit or two away from taking each game that they lost, and I think that all of those IOUs get cashed in soon. Verlander gives the pen the rest they need (in case you missed it, Leyland said that Benoit and Valverde were not avail tonight, and we all know that Leyland doesn’t alter from what’s written on the back of his Marlboro carton) and we get setup for 6 & 7 in Arlington. We’ll worry about those starting Saturday morning. The one potential wrench is the rain. From what I can tell, it’s not currently raining at CoPa, but it could during the game. If we were to get into another lengthy delay, the Bad Brad may get the call. On the other side of the field, larger than life Ron Washington said that his bullpen is at “full strength.”
– Last night was Valverde’s 2nd 3+ out appearance of the season. The first was on Monday.
– If the series goes to 7 games and Cabrera gets a hit in each game, he’ll set the all time streak to begin a career in the LCS.
1. Jackson CF
2. Raburn RF
3. Cabrera 1B
4. Martinez DH
5. Young LF
6. Peralta SS
7. Inge 3B
8. Avila C
9. Santiago 2B
L e t’s G o T i g e r s.