C.J. Wilson of the Texas Rangers and Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers squared off in Game 1 of the ALCS. It wasn't necessarily a pitchers duel, but that's partially because the game was delayed multiple times due to inclement weather. Both teams got off to quick starts, but neither could capitalize on making each pitcher throw more than 20 pitches in the first inning.
As the Rangers and TIgers battled in an elimination game, Baseball Nation live-blogged. Below are a few of the highlights.
In the bottom of the first, Verlander allowed three runners -- two on walks, and one on a Jackson error -- but struck out Beltre to end the inning. Verlander threw 25 pitches in the first inning; Wilson threw 20.
Jason Verlander wouldn't be so lucky in the second inning however, allowing two runs after David Murphy hit a triple.
Mike Napoli grounded a single to lead off, which didn't seem so bad until David Murphy got a 2-2 changeup that Verlander left sitting over the heart of the plate. Despite being well in front of things, Murphy still launched it deep into the right-center gap for a triple that put the Rangers in front.
Of all people to score off of, the Rangers did it off Verlander. By the end of the second inning, Verlander had thrown a whopping 49 pitches. Not all of that was because Verlander was pitching poorly however, as Rob Neyer points out, he was getting squeezed by the umpires.
Do umpires miss close pitches? All the time. Does this plot suggest that Welke is intentionally squeezing Verlander? Of course not. What it suggests is that when you look at the pitches Welke's missed, the luck has gone completely against Verlander so far. That luck will probably turn around, but the Tigers have to hope it's not too late.
Then the first rain delay hit as the Rangers were up 3-0.
The rain delay was on, and that's when FOX's weather guy told us it could last a few hours. Here's one image:
As ominous as that looks, though, the weather is traveling in a northward direction, not an eastward direction. So the ballpark's right on the edge. If that were traveling eastward, oh man, oh man, nope. No more baseball.
The game did continue however, and that's when the Detroit Tigers were able to get some runs on the board.
The game then resumed with C.J. Wilson still on the mound, and Wilson went and got himself into a big ol' mess. After getting Brandon Inge to ground out, Wilson allowed Austin Jackson to line the ball the other way for an RBI double. Ryan Raburn followed with a walk, and Miguel Cabrera followed Raburn's walk with a walk of his own. All of a sudden, the bases were loaded, with the tying run in scoring position.
And then Wilson threw a wild pitch. Or rather, he threw a pitch wildly low and inside, and Mike Napoli couldn't catch it cleanly, and the ball rolled far enough away for all the runners to advance. Just like that, it was 3-2.
Just like it was 3-2, it was just like that for another rain delay. The delay lasted quite a while, long enough for the Tigers to make a change at pitcher. They didn't just bring in a relief pitcher though, they brought in Rick Porcello. This left Grant Brisbee to wonder who would pitch Game 4 if not Porcello?
But if Porcello comes in, who picks up Game 4? Verlander? Leyland has adamantly refused to start his ace on short rest, and his restraint is admirable. But Verlander did only throw four innings, albeit with 82 pitches
Porcello? He could throw an inning and come back on three-day's rest with out CPS getting involved, right?
Brad Penny? I can't ... there's no ... this is the ALCS, man ... Brad Penny, no, come on. My evidence is this: Brad Penny
The game continued on until the 7th inning, still 3-2 in favor of the Rangers, when the bullpens took over. Literally take over they did, each shutting down the other team. The Rangers bullpen especially, got hot and shut down the Tigers.
The Rangers bullpen has faced 11 batters, and it's retired ten of them - five by strikeout. The top of the eighth featured Oliver and Adams, and they worked through Don Kelly, Avila and Jhonny Peralta with little trouble.
The Rangers haven't added to their lead, but their arms have protected it, and that 3-2 score from the fifth? It's still intact, as we head to top of the ninth.
The Rangers held on to that 3-2 lead and took Game 1 of the ALCS.