Forever Young: Texas Rangers-Detroit Tigers ALCS Game 4 Preview and Open Thread

Categories: Sports

Young_Andrus_070710_Merten.jpg
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.
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.

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.

Quick Hits

-- 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!


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Ghost of Warren Culbertson
Ghost of Warren Culbertson

NOAA showing 22% chance of rain in MotorCity up through 7pm. After that its 88% chance of rain. Game time 3:20 so they should be able to get it in. Any delays might push the later innings into the forecast heavy rain later evening.

ThongNCheese
ThongNCheese

Sad that I missed the fun in here tonight. I was too busy watching the game and trying to get my GD iPhone to update to iOS 5...hours later the bitch still isn't updated. Hope to join in the fun tomorrow!

primi timpano
primi timpano

Thx again, Sam and Robert.  Great game all the way around.

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

Really looking forward to that parent-teacher conference tomorrow evening, which, all things considered, should be 'round the seventh inning, rain delays aside. "Pardon me, Miss Jones, but do you mind if I check ESPN real quick? You were saying"?

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

So. I just got home. The radio went out soon as I started the car -- just died. At that point, it's 3-3. Then I get home, and the Rangers are one win away. We doing this tomorrow, Sam? We're doing this tomorrow.

Sam_Merten
Sam_Merten

One more win. Just one more win.

See you guys tomorrow.

Sam_Merten
Sam_Merten

Oh, Verlander plays for the Tigers? You hadn't mentioned that, Fox.

Sam_Merten
Sam_Merten

Cruz now has 4 HR and 9 RBI in the series, and that was his 10th career postseason homer.

primi timpano
primi timpano

Just compared Cruz to Reggie Jackson and other Hall of Famers re HR/AB; nice company:

HR/AB HR Freq Cruz 10/85 0.117647 Gherig 10/119 0.084034 Ruth 15/129 0.116279 Ramirez 29/410 0.070732 Mantle 18/230 0.078261 Jackson 18/281 0.064057

primi timpano
primi timpano

Approaching Hall of Fame post-season numbers.

Sam_Merten
Sam_Merten

Is it wrong to want to pin down Nellie Cruz and make sweet sports love to him right now?

Brad
Brad

Jimmy jack again!!!

primi timpano
primi timpano

He needs a night off or something.

Sam_Merten
Sam_Merten

Yeah, I'm shocked they walked him.

Sam_Merten
Sam_Merten

Just realized you were talking about MY. Obviously, I'm referring to Beltre. They both could use a day off, but they'll have plenty of time to rest in November.

primi timpano
primi timpano

I wish Young bunted.  He still looks a little unsettled.

Sam_Merten
Sam_Merten

Young didn't help himself by walking away. Not good.

primi timpano
primi timpano

Best looking swing I've seen since Fred Lynn.

Sam_Merten
Sam_Merten

Incredible stuff by Feldman and throw by Nappy. 

On to the 11th.

primi timpano
primi timpano

Great catch/tag at home, great throw, great game by Napoli.

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