Texas pair puts Tigers on brink of ouster
Posted: Thursday, October 13, 2011 7:03 pm
By NOAH TRISTER
AP Sports Writer
DETROIT (AP) — Nelson Cruz made the throw. Mike Napoli endured the collision.
Then this Texas tag team put the game away with their bats.
Cruz made a rocket throw to Napoli at the plate to keep the score tied, then hit a crushing three-run homer in the 11th inning off Jose Valverde that helped send the Rangers over the Detroit Tigers 7-3 Wednesday night for a 3-1 lead in the AL championship series.
Napoli put Texas ahead with an RBI single earlier in the 11th, and Cruz — whose grand slam in the 11th inning won Game 2 — once again starred for the Rangers in a game delayed at the start for more than two hours by rain.
With Detroit runners at the corners in the eighth and the score 3-all, Cruz caught Delmon Young’s flyball to right field and made a strong peg to Napoli to nail Miguel Cabrera. The Detroit slugger bowled over Napoli, but the catcher held on to the ball and Cabrera never touched the plate.
Texas tries for its second consecutive AL pennant today, sending C.J. Wilson to the mound to face Detroit ace Justin Verlander.
“It’s been a great series. If you don’t like baseball, you probably like it now watching these games,” Napoli said. “We expected a tough series.”
Napoli blooped a go-ahead single in the 11th and Cruz soon added his fourth home run of the ALCS. Cruz became the first player in major league history to hit a pair of extra-inning homers in the same postseason series.
Brandon Inge hit a solo home run in the Detroit seventh that tied it.
The Tigers wasted a terrific chance an inning later following some risky Texas strategy.
With one out and nobody on, the Rangers intentionally walked Cabrera, practically daring the rest of the struggling Detroit lineup to beat them.
Published in The Messenger 10.13.11