October 09, 2011
Score and situation: Charged with battling both the Detroit Tigers and a rare rain, the Texas Rangers hung on for a 3-2 victory at Rangers Ballpark on Saturday night. The win gives them a 1-0 lead in the AL Championship Series.
Leading lads: David Murphy(notes) hit a RBI triple and Nelson Cruz(notes) homered, but all credit goes to the Rangers bullpen after two rain delays threatened to make the game a mess. Michael Gonzalez(notes), Alexi Ogando(notes), Darren Oliver(notes), Mike Adams(notes) and Neftali Feliz(notes) allowed only one hit over 4 1/3 innings of relief after a 41-minute rain delay — the second of the game — forced starter C.J. Wilson(notes) from the game. The Tigers 'pen wasn't bad itself with four innings of one-hit ball, but the team's lineup wasted the effort.
Head hangers: Detroit starter Justin Verlander(notes) was startingly average, allowing three runs over four innings of work. The Tigers 4-5-6 hitters were a combined 0-for-10 and the entire lineup accumulated 14 strikeouts. Can't win if you don't put the ball in play.
Key play: Gonzalez induced Avila to ground out with the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the fifth inning to end the Tigers' scoring threat and preserve the Rangers' one-run lead. The game had just come back from its second rain delay.
Key stat: Ogando pitched two scoreless innings and is now 4-0 against the Tigers this season, though this was his first win coming out of the bullpen.
What they'll be talking about: The Rangers' ability to win a game started by Verlander should have a big impact on the outlook of both teams, but the momentum will only go as far as the next game's result. Can Texas put itself in the series drivers seat with a win in Sunday's Game 2? After a big bullpen night, they'll likely need some added offense to do so. Elvis Andrus(notes) and Josh Hamilton(notes) were both 0-for-4 at the top of the order while Michael Young(notes) was 0-for-3 with a walk.