Delmon Young crushed a pair of home runs and Justin Verlander was superb as the Detroit Tigers beat the Texas Rangers 7-5 on Thursday to avoid elimination and send the American League Championship Series back to Texas.
The Rangers return to Arlington clinging to a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series and can clinch a return trip to the World Series with a win in Game 6.
With their top relievers unavailable having worked three consecutive days, Tigers manager Jim Leyland put Detroit’s fate in the hands of ace Verlander and the hard-throwing right-hander delivered, holding the Rangers in check as the Tigers unleashed a home run barrage.
Verlander worked a gritty 7-1/3 innings, tossing a career-high 133 pitches and giving up four runs on eight hits.
Young, who missed Game 2 with a strained muscle, broke out of his slump with his first two hits of the ALCS, a solo homer in the fourth and two-run blast in the sixth.
Ryan Raburn and Alex Avila also contributed solo shots, the four homers establishing a Tigers record for the most in one postseason game.
Deadlocked at 2-2, the Rangers had the Tigers on the ropes loading the bases in the sixth inning, but could not deliver the knockout blow. Detroit ended the threat with a double play then floored the Rangers with a four-run explosion in the bottom of the inning.
Raburn sparked the rally with a leadoff single then scored when Miguel Cabrera’s sharply hit grounder took a strange ricochet off third base and over Adrian Beltre.
Victor Martinez’s triple into the right field corner past a diving Nelson Cruz scored Cabrera followed by a two-run blast from Young that bounced off the top of the wall to put Detroit up 6-2 and sent the towel-waving capacity crowd at Comerica Park into a frenzy.
Raburn added a solo blast in the seventh before the Rangers mounted a nerve-jangling rally, Cruz biting into the Detroit lead with his fifth homer of the series, a two run shot to deep right to end Verlander’s night.
Michael Young kept Tigers fans on the edge of their seats with an RBI in the ninth, before closer Phil Coke ended the drama by getting Mike Napoli to ground out with two men on base.
Verlander got Game 5 off to an unsteady start, Ian Kinsler hammering a leadoff double then scoring on Josh Hamilton’s sacrifice fly to put the Tigers behind early.
Texas starter C.J. Wilson sat down the first six batters in order and gave up just two hits over the first four innings, but two of them were solo home runs to Avila and Young.
Avila brought the Tigers level and a subdued crowd to life in the third with a solo shot that just cleared the left field fence, while Young followed in the fourth to nudge the Tigers in front 2-1.
The Rangers answered right back in the fifth, Kinsler leading off the inning with a walk and Hamilton recording his second RBI of the game with a liner to short center.
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