The Texas Rangers, once again, continued their improbable run after a dramatic 7-3 win on Monday night, thanks to a walk off grand slam home run, the first in Major League Baseball postseason history, from Nelson Cruz.
Even though the Rangers fell behind, and stayed behind, through six and a half innings, there was still the feeling of magic in Rangers Ballpark. There was still that feeling amongst fans that something amazing was going to happen before the night was said and done.
In the home half of the seventh, the fans found out just how right they were.
Cruz hammered a shot down the left field line that tied the game, 3-3, and forced extra innings.
We can talk about his home runs all we want, but you have to give credit where it’s due. The Texas Rangers bullpen has been nails over the last two nights.
Derek Holland still a concern
Holland has great stuff. That’s a line I’ve heard from several different media sources. As much as I’m sure they’re right, I’ve yet to see any consistency out of Holland at all.
Well, that’s not exactly true. He has consistently given up three runs in each of his two postseason starts. He gave up three to Tampa Bay, a game the Rangers came back and won, and three against the Tigers. A game the Rangers also came back and won.
So, he’s been lucky to not come out on the other end of those starts. He better be giving his offense ‘Thank You’ cards.
From the very first inning, Holland was missing his spots. In fact, he wasn’t missing just by a little, he wasn’t even close. Walking the very first batter he faced, he was able to get out of a jam.
There’s no question this is a good young pitcher with a whole lot of talent. But I’ve said time and time again that I want to see more consistency out of him. He’s shown that he can shut teams down, but he needs to show more than he has his last two starts.
If the Rangers are going to count on him past the ALCS, he’s going to need to bring his A game. He can’t keep counting on his offense to bail him out.
Michael Young takes Nelson Cruz’s spot on the cold seat
Cruz came in to the ALCS with just one hit in 15 postseason at bats. The Texas Rangers needed that to change in a big way if they were going to have a chance against the Tigers.
He has answered with three home runs in seven at bats against Detroit, two of those three were arguably the biggest home runs this postseason.
Taking Cruz’s place on the “cold seat” is a guy they can’t afford to stay that way, Michael Young.
So far, Young is hitting an icy .130 (3/23) and hasn’t been the guy the Rangers need him to be. After hitting .338 during the regular season and driving in 106 runs, he has been non-existent to this point.
Luckily for the Rangers, their pitching and their Cruz missile has been able to do the job. Question is, will that continue?
Scott Feldman saves the day
Almost every fan huddled around the water cooler at work this morning is talking about Cruz. But one thing they should be talking about is how Scott Feldman saved the rest of their bullpen on Monday night.
Feldman pitched four scoreless innings after Holland was pulled, making sure manager Ron Washington didn’t have to go to guys like Alexi Ogando, Mike Adams, or even Koji Uehara before he absolutely had to.
Unfortunately for Washington, the game went into the 11th inning, and, with no off day as they head into game three on Tuesday night, his relievers won’t be quite as rested. The biggest question is, who will be available for Washington to go to if he absolutely has to?
We know Uehara will be available, Adams should be available after only working one inning on Monday, left-hander Mike Gonzalez should be able to go and, if you absolutely have to go to him, Darren Oliver can also be called upon for an inning of work.
Not exactly the best options but it could have been a lot worse had it not been for Feldman. He was absolutely key for the Rangers to even have the opportunity to win the game in extra innings.
Colby Lewis brings postseason success to Detroit
Colby Lewis struggled down the stretch over the final month of the season, leaving some to wonder if the Texas Rangers could trust Lewis in the playoffs.
He took the ball against Tampa Bay and was absolutely masterful, giving up just a single run and reminding everyone just how good he was during the 2010 postseason.
Lewis will be handed the ball, and a two game lead in the ALCS, as the series shifts from Arlington to Detroit. The Tigers fans will be fired up and the players will be ready to do everything they can do to make sure the Rangers don’t celebrate on their field.
In five career starts against Detroit, Lewis is 2-2 with a 7.48 ERA. Those numbers might tell one story, or his postseason success could tell quite another.
There’s no telling which Lewis will show up during game three. If it’s the one show shut down Tampa Bay, the Texas Rangers will be looking at a 3-0 lead in the ALCS going into game four. If it’s the Lewis who’s struggled against the Tigers, this series will become a little more interesting.