October 15, 2011
The Detroit Tigers were in a do-or-die predicament on Thursday night, and their ace pitcher Justin Verlander was under extreme pressure to save his team from doom. It was rather like the situation faced by Yankees pitcher A.J. Burnett in the ALDS on October 4, but with much higher expectations. In the biggest challenge of his career, Verlander delivered. Over the course of 7 1/3 innings, he struck out eight batters and prevented the Rangers from getting more than a one-run lead. In multiple situations with runners in scoring position, starting with the first inning, he kept his cool. If it weren't for yet another home run by Nelson Cruz (his fifth this postseason!), Verlander would have only allowed two earned runs. Most amazingly, he threw 133 pitches total, the most ever in his career, and a postseason MLB record, I believe.
But even with Verlander's heroic determination, it was really the Tigers' offensive power that proved decisive in the end. Ryan Raburn and Delmon Young both homered twice, the first of which was part of the quite amazing highlight of the game which took place in the sixth inning. In four consecutive at-bats, Raburn singled, Miguel Cabrera doubled, Victor Martinez tripled, and Young homered -- the very first "natural cycle" in postseason baseball history. Along with the walk-off grand slam by Nelson Cruz in ALCS Game 4, that makes two historical records in one series! And that's how the Tigers beat the Rangers, 7-5.
Tonight the Texas Rangers host the Tigers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, and with home field advantage and a 3-2 series lead, they can afford to relax.
In the National League, meanwhile, the St. Louis Cardinals regained the series lead over the Milwaukee Brewers, winning by a score of 7-1. It was a big disappointment for Milwaukee's ace pitcher, Zack Greinke, but he had a good outing, with just two earned runs over 5 2/3 innings. The real killer was an error by Jerry Hairston in the third inning, allowing two more Cardinal runs to score. Prince Fielder went 0 for 4, and Ryan Braun only had one hit, a double that failed to get any runs scored. Today is a
wasted "travel/rest" day for those teams, which will resume the NLCS tomorrow in Milwaukee. (Hasn't Bud Selig ever heard of jet airplanes?)
Since this might be the last game in St. Louis this year, I figured I better hurry up and update the Busch Stadium (II) diagrams. The main change is with the profile, in which each level is slightly higher than before. It also now shows ground level more accurately than before: one level higher than I had inferred previously. Thanks to Jonathan Karberg for straightening me out on that. Two other rather trivial details in all the new diagram updates are the infield dirt is about eight feet bigger than before, and the steps in front of the dugouts are shown consistently, as are the photographers' areas. The two "overlaid" diagrams (for Busch Stadiums II and III) There is also a "new" photo that I took from the top of the Gateway Arch back in 1987. It doesn't show the entire stadium, unfortunately, but the quality is much better than the previous such photo. Also, the exterior panorama has been enhanced in quality, and there is a new photo of a model of Busch Stadium II, which I saw while touring Busch Stadium III back in August.