ALCS: Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers stave off elimination

By Noah Trister

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, Oct. 13 2011 9:46 p.m. MDT

Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander pitches during the fourth inning in Game 5 of baseball's American League championship series against the Texas Rangers Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Associated Press

DETROIT — One moment, Justin Verlander and the Tigers were on the verge of watching their season slip away.

After a double play and a lucky bounce, they were headed back to Texas.

Verlander helped save Detroit's season with a gutsy effort and the Tigers hit for a sudden cycle to break away in a 7-5 victory Thursday that cut the Rangers' lead to 3-2 in the AL championship series.

Delmon Young hit two of Detroit's four homers and Miguel Cabrera had a tiebreaking double in the sixth inning — thanks to a bizarre bounce off third base.

"I have that bag in my office right now. And that will be in my memorabilia room at some point in my life, I can promise you," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.

After building a five-run cushion, Detroit held on despite Nelson Cruz's record fifth home run of the series. With closer Jose Valverde unavailable for the Tigers, Texas cut it to 7-5 in the ninth and had Cruz on deck when Phil Coke retired Mike Napoli on a game-ending groundout with two runners on.

Coke got five outs for his first career postseason save.

"Cokie came through for us," Leyland said. "A little different situation for him obviously, but he was up to the challenge."

The Rangers get another chance to reach the World Series for the second straight season in Game 6 Saturday night at home. Derek Holland will start for Texas against Max Scherzer.

A swift turn of events in the sixth helped Detroit pull ahead. The Tigers turned a bases-loaded double play to keep the score tied at 2, then opened the bottom half with a single, double, triple and homer — in order — to take a 6-2 lead.

It was the first time four consecutive batters on one team hit for a "natural" cycle in a postseason game, according to STATS LLC.

The Rangers were the ones who seemed on the verge of breaking the game open in the sixth, loading the bases with one out. But then Ian Kinsler hit a grounder right to third baseman Brandon Inge, who merely had to step on the bag and throw to first for a double play.

"We had him right there in the sixth. He got out of it," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "We missed a home run by inches, and they opened the game up by inches. Got a groundball double play, hits the bag, and from that point on, you know, boom, bam. Put up four runs."

Ryan Raburn led off the bottom half with a single, and Cabrera's slow grounder bounced high off third base and down the line, putting Detroit ahead 3-2.

Victor Martinez followed with a rare triple down the right-field line, scoring another run, and Young added a two-run homer.

Raburn homered in the seventh to make it 7-2.

After using Valverde and Joaquin Benoit for three straight days, Leyland announced before Game 5 that neither reliever would be available. He was hoping to make it through the day with just Verlander and Coke, and that's exactly what happened.

"Well, it's what we said before the game. So it gave everybody a chance to get all their second-guessing ready about it," Leyland said. "That's just the way it had to be today. We talked about it before the game and we did exactly what we felt we had to do to give ourselves any chance to win the series."

Verlander allowed four runs and eight hits in 7 1-3 innings, throwing a career-high 133 pitches. He struck out eight and walked three.

"I want the ball. I want to go as deep as possible," Verlander said. "It was a battle for me, all night."

Get The Deseret News Everywhere

Subscribe

Mobile

RSS