Final in 11

Playoff Series: Game 4 of 6

Texas won 4-2

Game 1: Saturday, October 8
Game 2: Sunday, October 9
Game 2: Monday, October 10
in 11
Game 3: Tuesday, October 11
Game 4: Wednesday, October 12
in 11
Game 5: Thursday, October 13
Game 6: Saturday, October 15

    6:30 PM ET, October 12, 2011

    Comerica Park, Detroit, Michigan 

    1234567891011 R H E
    TEX 00000300004 7 11 0
    DET 00200010000 3 5 1

    W: S. Feldman (1-0)

    L: J. Valverde (0-1)

    Rangers grab commanding ALCS lead as Nelson Cruz buries Tigers

    Associated Press

    DETROIT -- The Texas tag team of Nelson Cruz and Mike Napoli was too much for the Detroit Tigers.

    Cruz made a rocket throw to keep the score tied, then hit a crushing three-run homer in the 11th inning off Jose Valverde that helped send the Rangers over the Tigers 7-3 Wednesday night for a 3-1 lead in the AL championship series. Napoli had put Texas ahead with an RBI single earlier in the 11th.

    Cruz, whose grand slam in the 11th inning won Game 2, once again starred for the Rangers in a game delayed at the start for more than two hours by rain.

    With Detroit runners at the corners in the eighth and the score 3-all, Cruz caught Delmon Young's flyball to right field and made a strong peg to Napoli, the catcher, to nail Miguel Cabrera.

    "For you guys that haven't seen Nelson every day, he's capable of doing exactly what he's doing," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "We've been waiting for it for a long time, and as I always say, I don't judge Nelson just because he hits balls out of the ballpark. He's a complete player. He takes pride in every part of the game."

    Napoli blooped a go-ahead single in the 11th and Cruz soon added his fourth home run of the ALCS. Cruz became the first player in major league history to hit a pair of extra-inning homers in the same postseason series.

    Texas tries for its second consecutive AL pennant on Thursday, sending C.J. Wilson to the mound to face Detroit ace Justin Verlander.

    The ALCS has marked quite a turnaround for Cruz. After going just 1 for 15 in the first-round playoff win over Tampa Bay, he's 5 for 14 with nine RBIs in only four games against the Tigers -- and seven of those RBIs have come in the 11th inning alone.

    Brandon Inge hit a solo home run in the Detroit seventh that tied it. The Tigers wasted a terrific chance an inning later following some risky Texas strategy.

    With one out and nobody on, the Rangers intentionally walked Cabrera, practically daring the rest of the struggling Detroit lineup to beat them. The AL batting champion hit a two-run double earlier in the game, in fact.

    "First time shame on you, next time shame on me," Washington said.

    Victor Martinez, who hurt his ribcage on a home run swing in Game 3, followed with a single to right and Cabrera lumbered around to third.

    "I respect Martinez a heck of a lot," Washington said. "Once again, he got that base hit and we almost paid for it, but I certainly wasn't going to let (Cabrera) have a swing of the bat there and beat us."

    Young, another Tigers starter who has been banged up lately, managed to lift the ball to medium right. Cruz caught it and made a perfect, one-hop throw to the plate that beat Cabrera by several feet.

    Cabrera bowled over Napoli, to no avail. Napoli held onto the ball and Cabrera never touched the plate.

    "We throw to the bases every day," Cruz said. "We take flyballs every day, make sure we know the ballpark, we know any situation we can be involved in during the game. When you prepare, everything comes more easy."

    Austin Jackson was hit by a pitch with one out in the Detroit 10th, but Napoli threw him out stealing, and reliever Scott Feldman made it through the inning without further trouble.

    "I'm glad I can do it on the defensive side," said Napoli, who was traded from the Los Angeles Angels to Toronto and then to Texas in the offseason. "I kind of got labeled as not too good behind the plate, and I'm glad I can show it and be myself behind the plate and just help us win."

    Feldman got the win and Texas closer Neftali Feliz worked the 11th.

    Cruz tried to contribute with his legs, too. He was on first base with two outs in the ninth and tried to steal second while Tigers reliever Joaquin Benoit was holding the ball. The pitcher stepped and threw to second to retire Cruz.

    Valverde had already pitched a perfect 10th, but he couldn't hold off Texas for another inning. Cruz was mobbed by teammates at the Texas dugout after his homer, and Detroit fans began heading for the exits. Some of those that remained began applauding Valverde, who hasn't blown a save all year but was unable to keep this game going for another inning.

    "It's one of the best baseball games I've ever been involved in," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "Just didn't come out the right way."

    The teams waited through a rain delay of 2 hours, 13 minutes before the first pitch. The game was supposed to begin at 4:19 p.m. EDT, but the rain didn't let up until around 5:30. Fans then began filling the seats closest to the field and, about 20 minutes later, the grounds crew came out to remove the tarp.

    A misty rain began falling again around the end of the second inning, and umbrellas started popping up all over the ballpark. Water would kick up as the ball hopped along the grass, but the rain wasn't a factor in the late innings.

    Cabrera hit his two-run double in the third, but Texas scored three times in the sixth.

    Inge tied it with a stunning homer off Alexi Ogando in the seventh. The Detroit third baseman hit .170 against right-handers during the regular season with no homers in 171 at-bats, but he lifted a high drive to left field that seemed to stay in the air forever before clearing the fence to make it 3-all.

    Rangers relievers allowed only one run in 15 innings through the first three games of the ALCS -- and they allowed only one in Game 4.

    Detroit's Rick Porcello allowed three runs -- two earned -- and eight hits in 6 2/3 innings. He struck out six with no walks.

    Matt Harrison allowed two runs and three hits in five innings for Texas.

    Porcello breezed through the first five innings, bringing the Detroit crowd to its feet with each scoreless frame. The 22-year-old right-hander finally faltered in the sixth. After a leadoff single by David Murphy, Ian Kinsler hit a one-out double, and Murphy scored when Young misplayed the carom in the left field corner.

    After Kinsler stole third, bringing Detroit's infield in, Elvis Andrus tied it with a single to right-center.

    Trying to hold the speedy Andrus close to first, Porcello made a pickoff throw that hit the runner and bounced away, allowing Andrus to take second. Porcello was charged with an error, then paid an even bigger price when Michael Young's single up the middle put the Rangers ahead 3-2.

    Young was 3 for 29 this postseason before that hit.

    Game notes

    Delmon Young has been banged up all series but made a nice running catch near the wall in the fourth. ... The last time a team intentionally walked the potential winning or tying run with nobody on and at least one out in the eighth inning or later in a playoff game was Oct. 22, 2009, according to STATS LLC. The Angels gave Yankees star Alex Rodriguez a free pass with two outs in the ninth inning and a one-run lead in Game 5 of the ALCS. New York ended up loading the bases, but Nick Swisher hit a game-ending popup. ... Valverde has a 0.52 ERA this year in save chances, including the playoffs, according to STATS. In non-save situations, his ERA is 6.83.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Game Information

    StadiumComerica Park, Detroit, MI
    Attendance42,234 (102.4% full) - % is based on regular season capacity
    Game Time4:00
    Weather59 degrees, rain
    Wind10 mph
    UmpiresHome Plate - Fieldin Culbreth, First Base - Jeff Nelson, Second Base - Tom Hallion, Third Base - Tim Welke

    Research Notes

    Nelson Cruz trails Carlos Beltran for the most home runs hit in his first 24 career postseason games.

    Mike Napoli is the 12th catcher with a go-ahead extra-inning hit in a postseason game. But he's only the 3rd to do it on the road, joining Tim McCarver (1964 Cardinals) and Javy Lopez (1996 Braves).
    Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz turned a 9-2 double play in the 8th inning to keep the game tied. Last outfielder to catch a fly ball and throw a runner out at the plate in a tied postseason game in the 8th inning or later: George Foster of the Reds in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series against the Red Sox. With the bases loaded and no outs and the score tied, 6-6 in the bottom of the 9th, Foster caught a fly ball from Fred Lynn and threw home to double up Denny Doyle. This is the game that was ended by Carlton Fisk's walk-off home run in the 12th inning.
    Nelson Cruz is the first player to have two extra-inning homers in the same postseason series. He is just the 4th player to have two extra-inning homers in a postseason career. The others are the Red Sox David Ortiz (2004 ALCS and ALDS), Braves' Javy Lopez (1995 and 1996) and the Yankees' Bernie Williams (1996 and 1999).
    Nelson Cruz had 0 assists to home from RF in the regular season.
    Brandon Inge's home run was the 2nd that the Tigers have hit in the 7th inning or later this postseason that either tied the game or gave them the lead (Delmon Young homered against Rafael Soriano in the 7th inning of Game 3 of the ALDS). It's the first time in Tigers history that they've had 2 go-ahead or game-tying home runs in the 7th inning or later in the same postseason. Brandon Inge homered on an 0-2 pitch : Brandon Inge has 1 career regular season home run on an 0-2 pitch. It came on June 23, 2006 against Chris Carpenter of the Cardinals.
    Miguel Cabrera was intentionally walked with no one on base and one out in the 8th inning. It's the 10th intentional walk with no one on base in postseason history, the last 2 coming to Alex Rodriguez in Game 3 and Game 5 of the 2009 ALCS against the Angels respectively. All of the other intentional walks came with two outs.
    Ian Kinsler: stole 3rd base prior to game-tying hit by Elvis Andrus. In the regular season, Kinsler is 28-for-30 in attempted steals of third base. That's the highest success rate among any active player who has tried at least 20 steals of third base.
    Rick Porcello: error put go-ahead run into scoring position. Porcello had 2 errors during the regular season. Remember that during the 2006 World Series, Tigers pitchers made 5 errors, helping the Cardinals defeat them in the World Series, 4-games-to-1
    Michael Young: RBI hit to put Rangers ahead. He was in a 1-for-22 slump prior to that hit.

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