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Tigers open the floodgates after lucky bounce and hang on to beat Rangers, forcing Game 6

Oct 13, 2011, 7:55 PM EDT

miguel cabrera double off third base AP

It started with a lucky bounce and ended with the Tigers knocking around C.J. Wilson to stave off elimination and force a Game 6 with a 7-5 victory.

Texas missed a big opportunity to break the game open with the bases loaded in the top of the sixth inning, as Ian Kinsler helped Justin Verlander wriggle out of a jam by grounding the first pitch he saw to third base for an inning-ending double play.

In the bottom of the inning Miguel Cabrera‘s grounder to third base looked likely to become a double play as well, but instead the ball hit the bag and bounced over Adrian Beltre‘s head for a run-scoring double. And then the floodgates opened, as Victor Martinez tripled past a diving Nelson Cruz in right field and Delmon Young crushed his second homer of the game–and fifth of the postseason.

Two ground balls to third base in the same inning having such wildly different outcomes may ultimately have decided the game, although things also would have been much different had Beltre not narrowly missed a three-run homer that would have given the Rangers a 5-2 lead in the fifth inning. Twice during the same at-bat, in fact, as his opposite-field drive off Verlander’s triple-digit fastball went foul by a few feet and then his 400-foot blast to straightaway center field came up just short of the wall.

Even with those breaks going Detroit’s way things still got interesting when Verlander coughed up a two-run homer to Cruz on his 133rd pitch and then again when Phil Coke allowed the tying run to reach base in the ninth inning. Jim Leyland said before the game that setup man Joaquin Benoit and closer Jose Valverde were unavailable after pitching in three straight games and he was true to his word, sticking with Coke even against the right-handed middle of the Rangers’ lineup as righties Brad Penny and Ryan Perry threw in the bullpen.

It worked–just barely–and now the highly entertaining ALCS is headed back to Texas. And the Tigers may want to bring third base with them or at least vote the bag a full playoff share.

  1. motorcitykitty80 - Oct 13, 2011 at 8:06 PM

    First ever team hit natural cycle in the playoffs… Tigers will not give up without a fight!!!

  2. lukeslice - Oct 13, 2011 at 8:06 PM

    So what’s the story…Verlander was dominant even though he once again wasn’t?

    • polegojim - Oct 13, 2011 at 10:26 PM

      Hello Hello Hello… tap tap tap on microphone… Did you watch the game Luke?

      The STORY is… TIGERS WIN, in case you missed it.

      Verlander pitched very well, thank you.

  3. Detroit Michael - Oct 13, 2011 at 9:26 PM

    I was amused by the Fox repeated super close-ups of third base after the Cabrera hit.

    • dink53 - Oct 14, 2011 at 8:15 AM

      I also liked Beltre bending over looking at the bag, as if something was wrong with it. Leyland kept the bag after the game.

      • Francisco (FC) - Oct 14, 2011 at 8:43 AM

        3rd base bag ALCS MVP.

  4. paul621 - Oct 13, 2011 at 9:31 PM

    Sooo…. What was the score?

    • Detroit Michael - Oct 14, 2011 at 11:42 AM

      It’s in the lead sentence of this blog post.

  5. polegojim - Oct 13, 2011 at 10:24 PM

    It’s not luck when you take advantage of it. That’s just good baseball.

    Great series, tied or one run difference for about 65 inning.


  6. txnative61 - Oct 14, 2011 at 3:50 AM

    It’s a game of inches, and bounces. Beltre hits one barely foul, then barely short, then a bagger bounces over his head. Maybe the jinx was just on him. Good series though, better to win at the Ballpark anyway.

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