Cruz leads Rangers, Fister looks to halt Texas’ streak
After a dramatic Game 2 victory, the Texas Rangers head to Detroit up 2-0 on the Detroit Tigers with Colby Lewis taking the mound looking to remain undefeated in the postseason for his career and help the Rangers to their sixth consecutive playoff victory.
And Nelson Cruz is for sure to be in the lineup, even after taking a pitch to the wrist yesterday. If you didn’t know about him before last night, you definitely do now.
Cruz hit the first walkoff postseason grand slam in MLB history Monday night to give the Texas Rangers a 7-3 victory in 11 innings in Game 2 of the ALCS. He had also hit a solo home run to tie the game four innings before his historic feat.
“It’s special,” Cruz said. “When you get a chance to get a W, that’s the most important thing.”
Cruz also homered for the decisive run in Game 1 and is now 4 for 7 with six RBI in the series. As the series now shifts to Detroit and Comerica Park, he is sure to draw the ire of the Tigers faithful. His hot bat will probably also induce an intentional walk, or at least the thought of one, by Tigers manager Jim Leyland.
“It’s been a great two games. It didn’t go the right way, obviously,” Leyland said. “The Rangers earned it, and we didn’t quite get it done. We haven’t been able to come up with any big hits.”
The Tigers counter the Rangers’ Lewis with Doug Fister. Not only does he have the challenge of stopping Cruz, but also the entire lineup the Rangers will put out there which has five straight wins since losing in the division series opener to Tampa Bay on Sept. 30.
“It can't change the approach for the pitcher at all,” Fister said. “It doesn't change the mindset, it doesn't change how you attack hitters.”
Since being traded by Seattle at the trade deadline, Fister will look for the success he had at home with Detroit in the regular season to translate to the playoffs. The righty went 4-0 with a 0.98 ERA for the Tigers in five home starts.
“Obviously, there’s a huge fan base in Detroit, which is terrific to play in front of,” he said. “It’s been very prevalent. It’s something that gives you chills.”
Meanwhile, Lewis went 0-1 with a 15.95 ERA against the Tigers this summer. In his no decision result on Aug. 2 at Comerica Park, he gave up five runs, 10 hits, and walked three in only four innings of work.
However, in five postseason starts, Lewis is 4-0 with a 1.67 ERA, only yielding a solo homer against Tampa Bay so far this postseason.
“It's the comfortability aspect of things,” Lewis said. “Basically the more you do it, the more you go out there, the more you understand what it takes to perform and be on that stage.”
For Detroit’s offense, Ryan Raburn provided all the scoring in Game 2 with a three-run homer as the Tigers left 13 runners on base. Also, left fielder Delmon Young went hitless in four at-bats Monday, returning to action after expectations that he would miss the series with an oblique injury.
If the Tigers are going to make it a series tonight, catcher Victor Martinez, 5 for 11 against Lewis, Miguel Cabrera, 5 for 12, and Austin Jackson, 6 for 15, are all going to have to step up and continue their success against the Texas righty. Raburn can’t be the only Tiger to do it all against a high powered and hungry Rangers squad.