The Detroit Tigers live to see another playoff game, as the club defeated the Texas Rangers 7-5, sending the series back to Arlington. Detroit took game five behind the efforts of starting pitcher Justin Verlander and ailing slugger Delmon Young.
Verlander was not at his best, but his gutsy performance coupled with the support of Detroit’s offense was enough to earn the right-hander his first win of the American League Championship Series.
Texas once again jumped out to an early lead, as Ian Kinsler scored in the top of the first on Josh Hamilton’s sac fly. Detroit would pull ahead on solo home runs off the bats of Alex Avila and Young in the 3rd and 4th frames. Hamilton’s second RBI of the night knotted things at two in the 5th.
In the 6th inning, the Tigers were able to break out in a big way against Rangers starter C.J. Wilson. Detroit used four hits, three of the extra base variety, to post a four spot against Wilson. Miguel Cabrera continued his annihilation of Rangers pitching with his RBI double to left and came home to score on Victor Martinez’s triple. Delmon Young followed Martinez by tallying his second and third RBI’s of the evening, taking Wilson deep to left center.
Down five after seven frames, the Rangers refused to go away. Texas put up a pair of runs on Verlander in the 8th, chasing him from the game.
With Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde unavailable, Tigers manager Jim Leyland turned to Phil Coke. The left-hander delivered, recording the game’s final five outs to notch his first save since late August.
Verlander threw 133 pitches over his 7 1/3 innings of work, allowing four runs on eight hits and three walks while striking out eight.
A trio of struggling Tigers turned in solid offensive performances. Young, Detroit’s unlikely hero, battled through injury to finish 2-3 with three RBI’s. Martinez and Avila, who entered Thursday with an ALCS average well below the Mendoza line, chipped in with RBI’s.
While it came in a losing effort, it’s worth mentioning that Nelson Cruz’s power surge hasn’t stopped. Cruz went yard again, his fifth home run in as many games. So far in this second round playoff series, Cruz has knocked in 11 of Texas’s 24 runs scored.
The clubs get Friday off as a travel day with the series resuming tomorrow evening in Texas. Game six will be a pitching rematch of game two. Derek Holland will try to do what Wilson couldn’t, while Max Scherzer is handed the task of keeping the Tigers season alive.
Topics: Alex Avila, C.J. Wilson, Delmon Young, Derek Holland, Detroit Tigers, Ian Kinsler, Joaquin Benoit, Jose Valverde, Josh Hamilton, Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Miguel Cabrera, Nelson Cruz, Phil Coke, Texas Rangers, Victor Martinez