Tigers 6, Rangers 2
A six-run seventh inning, one that saw three-run home runs from both Alan Trammell and Hank Greenberg, propelled the Detroit Tigers to a come-from-behind 6–2 victory over the Texas Rangers Monday night at Tiger Stadium. Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander struck out 11 across seven innings to earn both the win and the Player of the Game.
Verlander struck out the side in a 1–2–3 top of the first. The victims were second baseman Ian Kinsler, third baseman Adrian Beltre, and center fielder Josh Hamilton. Shortstop Alan Trammell led off the bottom half with a rocket to the gap in left-center. After his double, second baseman Charlie Gehringer advanced him to third with an unassisted groundout to first. Center fielder Ty Cobb struck out chasing an inside slider before first baseman Hank Greenberg drew an intentional walk. Left fielder Willie Horton left both runners on with an inning-ending fly to left.
Verlander ran his consecutive strikeout streak to five in the top of the second, fanning left fielder Frank Howard and first baseman Mark Teixeira. Consecutive singles by right fielder Juan Gonzalez and catcher Ivan Rodriguez gave shortstop Michael Young an RBI opportunity. However, he stranded the two with an unassisted groundout to first. The Tigers could only muster one baserunner in the bottom of the second. After third baseman George Kell flied to center, right fielder Al Kaline singled up the middle. It went for naught when catcher Bill Freehan and designated hitter Miguel Cabrera followed with a fly to left and grounder to third, respectively.
More Verlander mastery came in the top of the third as he struck out the side in yet another 1–2–3 inning. This time the victims were DH Rafael Palmeiro, Kinsler, and Beltre. Kinsler went down looking, and his fiery argument brought him dangerously close to an ejection. Rangers starting pitcher Kevin Brown faced the minimum in the bottom of the third. Trammell grounded to short before Gehringer blooped a single over second. Cobb erased Gehringer by grounding into an inning-ending 3–6–3 double play.
Rangers Take Lead over Tigers
Hamilton finally broke the deadlock in the top of the fourth. Verlander hung a curveball. Hamilton made him pay with a majestic fly ball into the second row of the upper-deck bleachers in right-center, giving the visitors a 1–0 lead. Howard whiffed before Teixeira flied to center. Gonzalez belted a screaming liner deep to center, clearing the 440 sign for a long home run. Rodriguez smoked a fly near the same place, but Cobb snatched it with his back against the fence to retire the side. Brown got through the bottom of the fourth unscathed despite a pair of two-out walks. Greenberg fanned before Horton popped to short. After Kell and Kaline both walked, Freehan hit an inning-ending fly to right. This kept the Rangers in front, 2–0.
Verlander recovered from his rough fourth with three-up, three-down fifth. Young popped to second before Palmeiro fanned and Kinsler grounded to third. Brown responded with two straight strikeouts in the bottom half, Cabrera looking and Trammell swinging. A single to right-center by Gehringer extended the inning, but an unassisted groundout to first by Cobb quenched all hopes for a rally.
Both pitchers combined for a perfect sixth. Beltre flied to center, Hamilton fanned, and Howard flied to right in the top half. Greenberg flied to the warning track in center to lead off the bottom half before Horton whiffed and Kell grounded to short. Verlander ran his consecutive out streak to 10 in the top of the seventh. A grounder to second by Teixeira preceded two straight grounders to third by Gonzalez and Rodriguez.
Tigers Rally, Put Rangers in Big Hole
Brown locked up Kaline with a front-door slider to open the seventh. The called strikeout preceded a walk by Freehan. Cabrera lined a single to left-center, putting two on for Trammell. His screaming liner to left-center cleared the fence, bringing Tiger Stadium to deafening levels as the home nine took a 3–2 lead.
Exit stage left for Brown, who took the loss, as John Wetteland took the hill. Gehringer welcomed Wetteland to the game by beating out an infield single to short. Cobb followed with an infield single to third, bringing up the ever-dangerous Greenberg with runners on first and second and one out. His towering fly to left-center hit the roof, giving the Tigers a 6–2 lead as the fans went into a higher level of euphoria. Wetteland struck out Horton before Kell grounded to shortstop, stopping the bleeding.
With the Tigers having batted around, turning a 2–0 deficit into a 6–2 lead, Willie Hernandez took over for Verlander. He ran into some trouble in the eighth, walking Young. A bloop single to center by Palmeiro advanced Young to third, putting runners on the corners with nobody out. Kinsler struck out before Beltre flied to right. Hernandez plunked Hamilton on the upper arm to load the bases. Howard came to the plate as the tying run, but his grounder to short quelled the rally.
Slamming the Door
New pitcher Francisco Cordero walked Kaline and Freehan to start the bottom of the eighth. Cabrera tapped a slow comebacker. Cordero nabbed the sliding Freehan at second on a force play, but Young had no play on Cabrera at first. The fielder’s choice put runners on the corners for Trammell, who grounded a ball up the middle. Young stepped on second before firing to first for the inning-ending U6–3 double play.
Hernandez finished off the Rangers in the ninth with a 1–2–3 inning. Teixeira watched strike three go by before Gonzalez grounded to short. A fly to center by Rodriguez finalized the 6–2 Tigers victory.
The Tigers advance to the American League Round of Eight. They will face the Chicago White Sox All-Time Team. The White Sox bounced the Kansas City Royals All-Time Team with a 4–1 victory at Comiskey Park.
Alan Trammell, Hank Greenberg, Justin Verlander, Ian Kinsler, Adrian Beltre, Josh Hamilton, Charlie Gehringer, Ty Cobb, Willie Horton, Frank Howard, Mark Teixeira, Juan Gonzalez, Ivan Rodriguez, Michael Young, George Kell, Al Kaline, Bill Freehan, Miguel Cabrera, Rafael Palmeiro, Kevin Brown, John Wetteland, Willie Hernandez, Francisco Cordero