Failed chances hurt Tigers in Game 2 loss at Texas
ARLINGTON, Texas—The Detroit Tigers certainly had their chances in Game 2 of the AL championship series.
Two on and none out in the first inning, middle of the order coming up. Bases loaded in the second and ninth. A runner on second base with one out in the 10th. A man on for AL batting champion Miguel Cabrera in the 11th.
Detroit couldn't manage a single run in any of those situations, failures that loomed large once Ryan Perry served up a game-ending grand slam to Nelson Cruz in the 11th inning, giving the Texas Rangers a 7-3 victory Monday and sending the Tigers home trailing 0-2 in the best-of-seven ALCS.
"We didn't quite get it done," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "We haven't been able to come up with any big hits. That's really hard. We've had some opportunities, but up to this point, we just haven't been able to do that."
After leaving nine runners on base in the opener, the Tigers stranded 13 this time. The five they wasted in the first two innings were as painful as the five they left in the last three innings.
"They made every pitch when they needed it," Cabrera said.
Another stat that's tough for Detroit to swallow: 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position in Game 2. The lone exception was Ryan Raburn's three-run homer in the third inning.
"It's just been two close games and could have gone either way," said cleanup hitter Victor Martinez, who went 0 for 4 and is 0 for 7 in the series. "Unfortunately, we end up on the losing side, but ... we're going home. We've been doing it the whole season: turn the page, come back tomorrow and keep on going."
Leyland insists his club is fine, especially headed to Detroit. After all, if the Tigers keep getting this many chances to score, the lineup is bound to start coming through.
Still, they're running out of time.
Only three teams have overcome 0-2 deficits in the LCS since it became a seven-game series in 1985: the Royals and Cardinals, both in '85, and the 2004 Red Sox, who famously clawed from an 0-3 hole to become World Series champions.
"They've got to win two more. We have to win four. It's that simple," Leyland said.
Doug Fister, who won the first-round finale at Yankee Stadium, pitches for Detroit in Game 3. Colby Lewis starts for Texas.
"We ain't got much to lose right now," said Raburn, who is 2 for 6 with four walks in the series. "We're down 2-0, so we're going to come out and play hard. We've got a great team. It's going to be another battle again. Just come out and play hard and see what happens."
Martinez and leadoff hitter Austin Jackson each went 0 for 4 on Monday. But pretty much everyone had a chance to get the big hit.
After Jackson opened the game with a walk and Ramon Santiago singled, Delmon Young, Cabrera and Martinez were retired, ruining that early chance to jump on Texas' shaky starter, Derek Holland. The failure hurt right away as the Rangers got a pair of runs off Max Scherzer in the bottom of the first.
Detroit was poised to get to Holland again in the second inning, filling the bases with two outs for Santiago. He hit a grounder that nearly made it into center field, but Texas second baseman Ian Kinsler stopped the ball and flipped it to shortstop Elvis Andrus to narrowly get the force out at second base.
Raburn's homer in the third put the Tigers ahead for the first time all series, but they couldn't push another run across against a series of Texas relievers. The Rangers' bullpen threw 8 1-3 shutout innings, with Scott Feldman settling things down for the first 4 1-3 and Mike Adams going the final inning for the win.
Texas relievers have combined for 12 2-3 scoreless innings during the first two games of the series, allowing five hits and three walks while striking out 16.
"With these pitching staffs, runs are hard to come by usually," said Andy Dirks, a late-inning replacement who went 0 for 2 and let a fly ball tick off the end of his glove in right field just before Cruz's winning slam. "You've just got to keep battling every at-bat. Sometimes you're going to produce a run here or there and they're all big. You've just got to keep fighting."
Detroit's best chance against the Rangers' bullpen came in the ninth. With two outs, Santiago singled and Don Kelly doubled to the right-field wall. The Tigers could have gambled and gone for the go-ahead run, but third-base coach Gene Lamont held up Santiago.
"The ball came back to him (Cruz, the right fielder)," Leyland said. "That's kind of the luck of the draw."
Texas went to closer Neftali Feliz and had him intentionally walk Cabrera, loading the bases for Martinez. He hit a flare into shallow center field that Andrus juggled, pinning the ball against his chest to end the threat.
"It's just one of those breaks," said Raburn, who was watching from the on-deck circle. "When you're winning, that stuff gets caught, and when you're not ..."
Detroit closer Jose Valverde made things interesting by loading the bases with none out in the bottom of the ninth, but got out of it with a shallow fly ball and a nifty 3-2-3 double play started and finished by Cabrera, who isn't always the slickest fielder at first base.
Raburn led off the 10th with a walk and moved to second on a sacrifice. He never got any farther, though.
In what proved to be Detroit's final at-bat in the 11th, Kelly singled and Cabrera sent a ball high and deep toward the Texas bullpen in right-center. Josh Hamilton kept drifting back and caught it on the warning track.
"It was an exciting game, you know?" Dirks said. "It was just fun -- except for the outcome."
NOTES: Detroit C Alex Avila was 1 for 22 this postseason before a single in the sixth. He was retired twice more after that. ... Valverde went two innings, marking the first time this year he's gone more than one. ... Detroit fell to 4-3-1 in extra-inning postseason games. Yes, a tie. It came in the Tigers' first postseason game, the opener of the 1907 World Series, when Ty Cobb and the Tigers tied the Cubs 3-3 in 12 innings in a game called because of darkness. ... The Tigers hadn't gone to extra innings in a postseason game since Game 2 of the 1984 ALCS, when they beat the Royals 5-3 in 11 innings. This was their 31st postseason game since then.