Four Crucial Bats Come Alive
By Garret Craig
The Detroit Tigers, by a final score of 5-2, finally clawed their way past the Texas Rangers in game three of the ALCS Tuesday night and, in doing so, have made it a series. The player of the game was, without question, Doug Fister, who was outstanding as usual and shut down a potent Texas offense (which has had struggles of its own recently). Had the Tigers’ offense been as quiet as they have been lately, however, this very well could have turned out to be another frustrating loss–one that surely would have crushed every ounce of remaining hope of a trip to the World Series.
Instead, a few important players solved their recent problems at the plate and knocked Rangers’ starter Colby Lewis out in the sixth inning.
Previous to game three, Detroit’s offensive attack had been sustained throughout the postseason by role players such as Don Kelly and Ramon Santiago. You can’t expect an offense led by utility men to put up enough runs to beat Texas. Through seven playoff games, Alex Avila, Austin Jackson, Victor Martinez, Miguel Cabrera, and Jhonny Peralta, the only five players who have started every postseason game for the Tigers, were a combined 20-for-124 (.161).
Thankfully, four out of five of those guys finally heated up at the plate and provided huge offensive contributions in Tuesday night’s victory.
Jackson had three hits from the lead-off spot, doubling his total for October; one was an RBI single that extended the Tigers’ lead to three runs in the sixth after Andy Dirks stole second. When he’s on, he gives Detroit’s offense a huge lift.
Martinez gave the Tigers their first real breakthrough against Lewis in the fourth inning when he hit a line-drive solo shot over the right field fence to tie the game and give life to a sellout home crowd. His home run trot was more of a limp, however, as he strained his oblique on the swing. He would fight through it though, as he came to bat again twice. He also worked the pitcher for two walks in the game.
Peralta, with the Tigers leading my a slim one-run margin, homered to lead off the sixth inning; the same inning in which Dirks and Jackson combined for a two-out rally to pad the lead further. Peralta also singled in an earlier at bat.
Cabrera, after hearing scattered boos in his previous at bat (a soft grounder to the pitcher), smoked a double to right field that scored Jackson and gave the Tigers’ a 2-1 advantage in the fifth inning. In his next at bat, he hit a lofty home run that sailed beyond the left field wall–the third bomb hit by the Tigers in the game.
The four aforementioned players were combined to go 8-for-15 (.533) on the night, with half of those hits going for extra bases. Together, they were credited with batting in all five Tiger runs.
Yes, they did it off Colby Lewis, who’s no ace, but regardless, the production from four key hitters who have struggled mightily in recent weeks is a really good sign. If they can keep this up, who knows how far this team can go?
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