Congratulations to the 2011 American League Champion Texas Rangers!
This post is my little recap of the 2011 American League and National League Championship Serieses. Yes, serieses. I was going to go with "serii" but that sounded slightly less stupid than using serieses. And using "series" to describe a plural number of serieses just feels weird to me. And because no one ever comments on this blog, I know I won't get grammar haters berating me about it. So ha.
Anyway, over the past several days I've been watching all the MLB ALCS and NLCS games. The American League features the powerhouse Texas Rangers against the powerhouse Detroit Tigers. People expected a firecracker series between the two, and they haven't been disappointed, even though none of the games has been particularly high-scoring. The featured player of the series? Mother Nature.
Game one featured Justin Verlander giving up three early runs to Texas, then being forced to leave after a pair of rain delays in the fifth inning. The Rangers bullpen shut down the Tigers' offense after the delays (a combined two hours, thirty minutes), limiting them to just one hit. It was a 3-2 Texas win.
If you ask the Rangers, they "Cruz-ed" to victory in game two 7 to 3 after Nelson Cruz crushed a two-run home run in the 11th inning after Cruz had tied up the game in the 7th inning with another homer. Game two was originally to happen the night after game one, but was postponed due to the threat of rain. Ironically, no rain actually fall at the stadium the whole time the game was supposed to be played. But hey, a little delay never hurt anything... that walk-off shot? It was a grand slam - the first postseason walk-off grand slammer ever! The Rangers jumped on a plane for Detroit when this one ended at 12:03am local time.
Game three showcased pitching more than hitting, although there was plenty of that, too, in the 5-2 Tigers victory. Doug Fister totally shut down the Texas offense over 7 1/3 innings, allowing just two runs on seven hits (six singles and a double). After a quick first-inning Texas run, Fister worked his magic while the Tigers clubbed three solo homers and put up runs in the 4th-7th innings for a total of five.
By a score of 7 to 3 (again), the Rangers got the hammer in the ALCS by tagging the untouchable Jose Valverde for four runs in the top of the 11th inning of game four, giving him a loss on a Mike Napoli go-ahead single, but blown open by a Nelson Cruz three-run bomb. The Rangers showcased not just the big hits, but also their fielding and defensive skills, as Nelson Cruz threw out Miguel Cabrera at home trying to score the go-ahead run on a short right-field hit in the 8th, and Napoli threw out Austin Jackson trying to steal a base in the 10th.
With a 3-1 deficit in the Series going into Game 5, the Tigers knew they had a lot of ground to cover to win a World Series berth, but they rose to the task. In the 6th and 7th innings, with the score tied 2-2, the Tigers put up five runs on something I've never seen nor scored before. In the sixth, with no one out, the leadoff hitter in Ryan Raburn singled to left. Then Miguel Cabrera doubled him in immediately after. Victor Martinez followed that up with a triple, and Delmon Young homered to deep left-center field. The Tigers basically hit for a natural cycle (a 1B, 2B, 3B, and HR in that order) as a team. Kind of cool. Justin Verlander also set a new career high pitch count (133 pitches over 7 1/3 innings), giving up four runs. The Tigers send the Series back to Texas with a 7-5 win.
On Saturday night, the Texas Rangers defeated the Detroit Tigers 15-5 to advance to the 2011 World Series! It was an exciting, high-scoring game that saw the Tigers jump out to an early 2-0 lead. But in the 3rd inning, the Rangers pounced and never looked back, scoring NINE runs on four walks, four singles, two doubles, and a couple of fielder's choices off of four Detroit pitchers. After that, while three solo home runs put the Tigers at a total of five runs for the game, the Rangers tacked on six more runs, including Nelson Cruz's record-breaking sixth home run (the record was most home runs in a single postseason series), topping Ken Griffey Jr., Reggie Jackson, and Chase Utley. Cruz also broke the record for most RBI in a single series with 13, and he was named ALCS MVP. The Texas Rangers take on either the St. Louis Cardinals or the Milwaukee Brewers pending the final game (or two if needed) of the NLCS. Congratulations, Texas!