Rangers strike first in ALCS, top Detroit 3-2ARLINGTON, Texas - The Texas Rangers beat the Detroit Tigers 3-2 in a rain-interrupted opening game of the American League Championship Series on Saturday that featured a show-stopping performance by the home bullpen.
Rangers relievers completely shut down the Tigers, preserving a one-run lead with 4 and 1/3 innings of one-hit pitching including eight strikeouts.
Texas closer Neftali Feliz finished it off in style, striking out the side, getting his third strikes on pitches that hit 99, 101 and 99 miles per hour on the radar gun.
“The back of our bullpen is awesome,” Rangers catcher Mike Napoli said. “When these guys come in, we expect them to throw zeros. They did their job tonight.”
The Rangers led 3-0, including a Nelson Cruz home run against Detroit ace Justin Verlander, going into the fifth inning when two rain delays stalled play for almost two hours.
Detroit scored a pair of runs in the rain-marred inning off Rangers starter C.J. Wilson, but a procession of five Texas relievers made the narrowest of advantages stand up. Verlander, who led the American League in wins (24), ERA (2.40) and strikeouts (250) took the loss.
“I thought tonight his control was not good,” Detroit manager Jim Leyland said about Verlander. “He couldn’t get his curveball over for strikes when he needed to.”
Wilson had looked in control through four innings but after the first rain delay in the fifth he struggled.
One run scored on an Austin Jackson double and another came across on a Wilson wild pitch after the left-hander had walked two batters to load the bases.
After the second rain delay, left-hander reliever Mike Gonzalez came on and retired left-handed hitting Alex Avila with the bases loaded to end the Detroit threat.
Alexi Ogando entered in the sixth and threw two innings of no-hit ball and was credited with the win.
Darren Oliver and Mike Adams served as a bridge to Feliz, who overpowered the Tigers in the ninth.
“It means we’re one game closer to getting to the World Series,” Texas second baseman Ian Kinsler said.
The best-of-seven series continues Sunday with Derek Holland (16-5 in the regular season) scheduled to pitch for the Rangers against Detroit’s Max Scherzer (15-9).