BY: Richard W. Humphrey
ARLINGTON, Texas – Detroit’s Max Scherzer started Saturday’s game, and it was obvious from the beginning that he was not as sharp as he had been last Monday. He kept the Rangers off the scoreboard in the first and second innings, but he struggled with control. He walked just one of the first nine Ranger batters, but he threw too many balls running up his pitch count. His percentage of strikes thrown hovered around 50%, problematically low.
He took a 2-0 lead into the third inning after Miguel Cabrera and Jhonny Peralta touched Ranger starter Derek Holland for solo home runs in the first two innings. Ian Kinsler led off the third with a ground ball between third and short. Tigers’ third sacker Brandon Inge made a remarkable stop and threw out Kinsler at first. That proved to be the last out that Scherzer would record this season.
Elvis Andrus worked Scherzer for a walk and moved to second base on a Josh Hamilton single. Michael Young then tied the game with the first of two doubles that he would hit in the inning. It was a scorching line drive down the left field line that enabled Hamilton to score from first without drawing a throw. The tie game definitely brought the crowd to life, and the crowd grew louder when Adrian Beltre followed with a ground single up the middle that plated Young, giving Texas the lead for good. Mike Napoli and Nelson Cruz walked to load the bases and end Scherzer’s night on the mound.
With left-handed batters David Murphy and Endy Chavez due at the plate, left-hander Daniel Schlereth was summoned from the Tigers’ bullpen. Murphy tagged Schlereth for a single to drive in two more, extending the lead to 5-2. Ranger manager Ron Washington next sent Craig Gentry to bat for Chavez, which ended Schlereth’s evening with one batter faced.
Right-hander Rick Porcello, the game four starter, came on to pitch to Gentry, who promptly hit a ground ball between the first and second basemen. There was no chance to throw out the speedy Gentry, so Tigers’ second baseman Ramon Santiago tried to force Murphy at second. His throw was late. All hands were safe loading the bases. The official scorer improbably credited Gentry with a fielder’s choice instead of a base hit.
Kinsler was the next batter, his second at bat of the inning. He grounded a single between third and short into left field, sending home two more Rangers. With the score at 7-2, Detroit finally recorded the second out of the inning by throwing out Gentry trying to score from third on a ground ball to short. He kept the run down alive long enough for the other two runners to advance to second and third. Detroit manager Jim Leyland then ordered an intentional walk to Hamilton to again the load the bases, which set the stage for Michael Young’s second double of the inning; this time a flare to right field. Two more runners scampered home to essentially put the game on ice at 9-2.
Porcello was relieved by Ryan Perry, the fourth pitcher of the inning. He got Adrian Beltre to fly out to left field to end the inning.
The final carnage of the Tigers’ pitching staff was 14 batters faced, nine runs allowed on six hits and four walks, one intentional. It took 38 minutes to play, and when the inning was over, more than 50,000 people in the ball park, including both teams, knew the Texas Rangers would be participating in this year’s World Series.