Forever Young: Texas Rangers-Detroit Tigers ALCS Game 4 Preview and Open Thread
As depressing as it was, I believe Game 3 of the American League Championship Series was an anomaly, much like Game 1 of the ALDS. Nothing seemed right.
Photo by Sam Merten Elvis Andrus and a beardless Michael Young haven't hit their strides yet at the plate, but that's about to change.
And while Wash's decision to keep Colby Lewis on the mound when he was obviously out of gas was the turning point in the game, it was most frustrating to see the Texas Rangers fail miserably at the plate, including a goose egg in 15 combined at-bats from Michael Young, Adrian Beltre, Mike Napoli and Nelson Cruz.
Right-hander Doug Fister made them all look silly by pitching them inside constantly, while Texas hitters refused to make adjustments. It was fortunate that Beltre didn't have another at-bat, or else he would have likely snapped his leg in half after fouling pitches off his shin and knee and looking awkward while doing so.
But it's important to remember: It's only one game. The Detroit Tigers still have tough odds working against them, as only 13 of 71 teams to lose the first two games of a best-of-seven series have come back to win the series. And the Rangers haven't lost consecutive games since August 24 and 25.
This afternoon's pitching match-up favors the Rangers, as 26-year-old southpaw Matt Harrison (yet another acquisition in the Mark Teixeira trade of 2007) takes the bump for Texas against 22-year-old righty Rick Porcello. Both were highly touted prospects, with Porcello taken in the first round of the 2007 draft and Harrison drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the third round of the 2003 draft, and both aren't big strikeout guys.
However, Harrison has refined his off-speed pitches and hasn't lost since August 24, winning four games in September with a 2.64 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 30 2/3 innings. And although both hurlers had identical 14-9 records this year, Harrison bettered Porcello across the board, including an ERA more than a full run lower than Porcello's.
Sure, Harrison is 0-4 with a 7.43 ERA in five career starts against the Tigers, including 0-3 with a 7.03 ERA at Comerica Park. And Porcello pitched two scoreless innings of relief in Game 1. But Porcello can really be hit and miss, posting a 2.27 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in his 14 wins and a 9.76 ERA and 2.15 WHIP in his nine losses. And his 5.64 ERA at home was one of the worst in baseball.
While I was dead wrong in predicting an offensive explosion by the Rangers yesterday, I'm doubling down for today.
After hitting an MLB-best .283 in the regular season, Texas is hitting just .223 in the postseason. Michael Young's struggles, in particular, have been the focus, as he has managed just three singles in 27 at-bats and no RBI. Elvis Andrus has been awful too, with four hits in 24 at-bats.
But it's not like Young hasn't struggled before. All players do. You're unlikely to remember his 0-for-19 slump in June, but, of course, there's much more at stake in the postseason.
He'll turn it around. And so will everyone else. The lineup is too damned good not to start clicking today.
Two more wins. Just two more wins.
-- Beltre is in the lineup today in spite of his shaky knee, and Wash is keeping the faith in Young by hitting him cleanup. Torrealba stays in the lineup, but this time as the DH.
-- Delmon Young (oblique) and Victor Martinez (oblique) are expected to play, although Young is slotted to hit fifth instead of third (Miguel Cabrera stays there.)
-- Young, Kinsler and Hamilton all shaved off their beards. Couldn't hurt.
-- Much like it has throughout the series, I'm expecting the bullpen to be a major factor. Feldman and Ogando are likely to see action, especially early on if Harrison struggles.
-- If you haven't read the story about the Red Sox's collapse in the Boston Globe, do yourself a favor and do so.
-- According to various sources, Red Sox GM Theo Epstein is headed to the Chicago Cubs for approximately $15 million over five years.
See y'all in the comments!