The Texas Rangers overcame the Detroit Tigers and nearly two hours of rain delays to win 3-2 in Saturday’s opening game of the American League Championship Series.
The defending AL champion Rangers scored all their runs off Detroit ace Justin Verlander before the game was interrupted twice for a total of 1 hour and 50 minutes in the top of the fifth.
David Murphy hit an RBI single in the second and scored on Ian Kinsler’s single, and Nelson Cruz broke a postseason slump with a leadoff homer in the fourth to make it 3-0.
In between the delays, Detroit’s Austin Jackson doubled in a run and scored on a wild pitch by Rangers starter C.J. Wilson. Alexi Ogando, the only Texas pitcher to beat the Tigers during the regular season, pitched two scoreless innings for the win.
Verlander was not his usual, dominant self. The Rangers scored twice in the second and got a solo homer in the fourth, matching the number of runs he had allowed in all 21 previous innings he pitched at Rangers Ballpark.
He had thrown only 82 pitches, though, when the first delay hit.
After a 41-minute wait, the Tigers scored twice and had the bases loaded when more rain fell, delaying the game for the second time, for 1 hour and 9 minutes.
“When the original one hit he was actually coming back out,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “When the second one came about, that was a no-brainer. This was a little bit of a weird night, obviously, with the rain the way it was.”
Rick Porcello, Detroit’s announced starter for Game 4, replaced Verlander and pitched two scoreless innings. A series of relievers shut down the Rangers the rest of the way, but the Tigers couldn’t get anything going against Texas’ bullpen either.
The game began under threatening skies, and Detroit got off to a promising start by loading the bases with one out against Texas starter C.J. Wilson. With Verlander ready to take the mound, the Tigers had to be feeling good knowing they were one hit from taking control.
Instead, Magglio Ordonez grounded into a double play.
“C.J. made a great pitch on Magglio, cut a fastball in and got him to ground it to third,” Leyland said. “That was obviously a huge inning.”
Mike Napoli opened the second against Verlander with a single through the right side. Then David Murphy hit a ball to right-center that just kept carrying until it one-hopped the wall, turning into an RBI triple. A two-out single by Kinsler drove in Murphy for a 2-0 Texas lead.
Verlander gave up a two-out single to Beltre in the third, then in the fourth saw Nelson Cruz drive a pitch high and deep into the left-field seats.
“His control was not very good. He didn’t really have his curveball going for strikes,” Leyland said. “He had a tough time with it.”
The Tigers wasted a bases-loaded chance in the first inning, and again in the fifth. After the second delay, which also ended Wilson’s night, Alex Avila hit a weak grounder to second base off reliever Mike Gonzalez.
“That’s not easy to come out after the rain delay and walk up there with the bases loaded and they bring in a new pitcher, a lefty,” Leyland said. “He won the battle tonight. I have no problem with that. That’s a tough situation for anybody.”
Detroit’s two runs came when Jackson hit an RBI double and scored on a wild pitch.
Alexi Ogando — who had all three of Texas’ regular-season wins against Detroit, all as a starter — shut out the Tigers in the sixth and seventh to earn the win.
Because Wilson didn’t go five innings, the winning pitcher was at the discretion of the official scorer.
Game 2 was scheduled for yesterday, with Derek Holland pitching for Texas against Max Scherzer.
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