Look for Rangers to run in Game 3
October, 11, 2011
By Jim Bowden | ESPN Insider
Otto Greule Jr/Getty ImagesElvis Andrus and Texas' defense defused two Tigers bases-loaded threats.
Down two games to none, the Detroit Tigers are happily returning home, but they’ll receive no reprieve from Texas’ offensive onslaught. Nelson Cruz’s walk-off grand slam almost seemed to capture all of the problems facing the Tigers, some over which they have no control.
With outfielders Magglio Ordonez (ankle) out and Delmon Young (oblique) hurting, the Tigers simply do not have enough firepower to match up with the Rangers. That's allowed Texas to pitch around Miguel Cabrera, Detroit's best hitter, especially with cleanup man Victor Martinez struggling at an 0-for-7 clip in the ALCS.
Tigers Hall of Famer Al Kaline said to me yesterday there was no doubt in his mind that Cabrera is the greatest hitter in Tigers history, or at least since Ty Cobb, and that includes himself! Lofty praise, indeed.
And so it was that Rangers manager Ron Washington continued to make good on his promise of not letting Cabrera beat his team when he intentionally walked Cabrera in the ninth inning with two men on and two outs. Martinez immediately popped out.
The Rangers have also outclassed the Tigers in the field. On two separate occasions with the bases loaded, the Rangers saved themselves with terrific defense. In the second inning, second baseman Ian Kinsler ranged far to his right to make a terrific inning-ending force play on a Ramon Santiago grounder. Later in the ninth inning, with two outs, shortstop Elvis Andrus showed phenomenal range, getting to a Martinez flyball that very few shortstops would reach. He pretty much saved the game for the Rangers with that play. It was a play I doubt Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta would have made and underscores the limits of the Tigers' defense.
Then, in the outfield, late-inning replacement Andy Dirks dropped a Mike Napoli flyball that set the stage for Cruz’s grand slam.
Here's what I'm looking for in Game 3 at Comerica Park tonight.