ALCS: There will be a Game 6

The ball bounced off the base.

I don’t know whether that will be the story line of this ALCS, but it was a hell of a story last night.

Justin Verlander emptied the tank as the Tigers defeated Texas, 7-5, to cut the Rangers’ lead to 3-2 in the AL championship series. Delmon Young hit two of Detroit’s four homers and Alex Avila and Ryan Raburn hit the other two in a game where every run was needed.

But the key hit was a Miguel Cabrera groundball double play ball in the the 6th inning that turned into a tiebreaking double when it took a bizarre bounce off third base.

Follow the action:

  • Ryan Raburn led off with a single.
  • Cabrera hit the routine grounder that bounced high off third base and down the line, putting Detroit ahead 3-2.
  • Victor Martinez followed with a rare triple down the right-field line, making it 4-2.
  • Delmon Young added a two-run homer, to make it 6-2.

The coolest part, was that it was the first time four consecutive batters on one team hit for a “natural” cycle in a postseason game.

Verlander allowed four runs and eight hits in 7.1 innings, throwing a career-high 133 pitches. He struck out eight and walked three. On his final pitch, a 100 mph fastball, Nelson Cruz sent right down the left-field line for a two-run homer. It was his fifth homer, a record for homers in a league championship series. He is the fifth player in MLB history to hit five in a postseason series, but the first to hit five in an LCS. Reggie Jackson, Ken Griffey Jr., Juan Gonzalez and Chase Utley are the other five-homers in a postseason hitters. Delmon Young now has five homers in the AL playoffs. He hit three during the division series against the New York Yankees.

With Jose Valverde and Joaquin Benoit spent after having appeared in games for three straight days, Tigers manager Jim Leyland announced before Game 5 that neither reliever would be available. He was hoping to use just Verlander and Phil Coke, and that’s exactly what happened. Coke struggled but got five outs for his first career postseason save.

C.J. Wilson struggled again for Texas going six innings (the longest of his three postseason starts) and allowed six runs and eight hits, striking out five and walking two. Wilson is 0-2 with a 7.59 ERA in 16.2 innings. He has allowed six homers in the postseason. Postgame David Wells said, “C.J. is baffling me because he’s getting rocked this postseason.”

But it wasn’t Wilson that caused the Tigers’ fan a night of pleasure, it was a groundball that bounced off the bag.

“I have that bag in my office right now. And that will be in my memorabilia room at some point in my life, I can promise you,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.