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Stepping up: the Tigers’ big guns give them new life

Oct 11, 2011, 11:33 PM EDT

Detroit Tigers' Miguel Cabrera hits a solo home run against the Texas Rangers in the seventh inning of Game 3 of the MLB American League Championship Series baseball playoffs in Detroit

It’s an overused cliche — I know, because I’ve overused it — to say that a team has to have someone “step up” when things go poorly.  I guess what makes it most objectionable is the notion implied in the term itself that a player can simply choose to perform better. To “take a step” voluntarily and hit homes runs and stuff.  Baseball just doesn’t work like that. Guys are always trying. Sometimes the bat connects. Sometimes it doesn’t.

But even if one cannot simply choose to step up a team can do so in effect.  That’s what the Tigers did tonight, with Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and Jhonny Peralta all coming up big to give the Tigers a 5-2 win and cut the Rangers advantage in the series to 2-1.

A combined 4-for-23 in the first two games of the ALCS, Cabrera, Martinez and Peralta went 5-for-10 in Game 3, with each of them hitting a home run.  Also stepping up: a not-so-big gun, Austin Jackson, who has been horrifyingly awful in the postseason thus far — 3-for-25 with 14 strikeouts in the ALDS and ALCS entering Game 3 — but who went 3-for-5, scored a run and drove one in tonight.  Compare that to the Rangers Nos. 4-5-6-7 hitters who went a combined 0-for-15 and we can see whose bats made the connection from Dallas last night and whose didn’t.

But maybe more critical that the Tigers’ big bats waking up was the performance of starter Doug Fister, who gave Jim Leyland seven and a third innings of two-run ball.  While Leyland did use both Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde tonight, neither of them threw too many pitches and they and the rest of the taxed Tigers’ bullpen should be in decent shape to back up Rick Porcello as he takes the the hill tomorrow afternoon.  With Justin Verlander looming in Game 5, the Tigers can and should view tomorrow’s game as an “all hands on deck” affair.

But that’s tomorrow. Today the Tigers can take comfort in the notion that they’re back in the series. The bats are awake and, even if it was a mistake pitch to Cabrera from Koji Uehara, they proved that they can actually score a run or two off the Rangers’ bullpen.

Welcome to the series, Detroit. You arrived a bit late, but now that you’re here, enjoy yourself a while.

  1. polegojim - Oct 12, 2011 at 12:15 AM

    Stepping up indeed, especially Cabrera!

    No Panic. Way to go Tigers!

  2. massivedick - Oct 12, 2011 at 8:14 AM

    victor martinez is a tough MF

  3. antlerclaws - Oct 12, 2011 at 9:47 AM

    The Rangers were “stepping down” also. After the early score in the first inning, they kind of shut down. And Koji Uehara is turning into a bust. Every time he takes the mound I guess he expects to see a home run sailing over his head. Tommy Hunter could’ve been in the bullpen for the Rangers. Not saying he could have been that much of a game-changer, but Uehara makes me cringe every time they trot him out there, like Arthur Rhodes used to do before he went to the Cardinals. I used to say the Rangers had to have a big lead before Rhodes went in to “Rhodes-proof” the game. Now I think I should say “Uehara-proof”.

    • stlouis1baseball - Oct 12, 2011 at 1:07 PM

      Claws: I was just thinking about Tommy Hunter the other day (he is a local kid). I know you guys traded him to the Orioles. Who did you get in return? Was this a 3 way deal when you picked up Mike Adams from the Padres?

      • antlerclaws - Oct 12, 2011 at 5:32 PM

        SP Tommy Hunter and 1B/3B Chris Davis to Orioles for RP Koji Uehara and RP Michael Gonzalez. Mike Adams was a separate deal.

  4. polegojim - Oct 12, 2011 at 11:02 AM

    Ohhhhh antlerclaws… so then the Tigers stepped down for games 1 and 2, Texas really didn’t beat them either, eh? Fact is, the Tigers pitching is typically just that GOOD. Now, they’re 81-0 when leading in the seventh inning. That’s not Texas stepping down, that’s Detroit being Detroit, as it should be.

    How about we agree on this – Texas was the better team for the first two games, Detroit was the better team in game three… and now that the ‘Sleeping Giants Bats’ have awoken… Detroit is going to the World Series. ; )

    • antlerclaws - Oct 12, 2011 at 5:35 PM

      I’ll concede this to you….the Rangers SUCK in Comerica Park. The Rangers hate Comerica, and Comerica hates the Rangers. That’s why it was so important to get those first 2 wins, because they get their asses handed to them there.

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