Epic, unbelievable and historic are just a few adjectives to describe yesterday’s thrilling 7-3 win by the Texas Rangers in Game 2 of the ALCS. It was just a good all-around postseason baseball game played by both teams with a finish that was as good as it gets in any sport.
The Tigers had good chances in the first two innings to score, but Rangers’ starter Derek Holland worked out of trouble. The Rangers jumped on the board early with two runs in the first courtesy of Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre RBI doubles before Tigers’ starter Max Scherzer settled in.
Holland’s wildness (four walks and a HBP) caught up to him in the third when Ryan Raburn popped a three-run home run to left field to give the Tigers the lead. The score would remain 3-2 until the seventh inning when Nelson Cruz turned the game around when he crushed a solo home run high off the left field foul pole to tie the game at 3. The missile by Cruz ended Scherzer’s day, but it was just the beginning of the heroics for “Nellie” Cruz.
The Tigers had a chance to take the lead with the bases loaded in the ninth inning, but Neftali Feliz got Victor Martinez to pop out on a 100 mph heater to Elvis Andrus in shallow center field to end the threat. But it was no routine popup by any stretch as Andrus made a heck of a running catch over his shoulder. The ball hit Andrus’ hand then went into his glove and back out as Elvis finally trapped the ball against his body to secure it. It was quite an intense and nerve-wracking moment for Rangers’ fans everywhere as Andrus pretty much saved the game with that catch.
It looked like the Rangers had the game in the bag in the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded and nobody out after Cruz was beaned by Jose Valverde to load ‘em up. However David Murphy got over anxious and popped up to shallow left before Mitch Moreland grounded into a double play that was nicely turned by the Tigers to send the game into extra innings.
It was a great battle between the two bullpens with each ‘pen getting clutch outs in clutch situations. Scott Feldman was the unsung hero in my opinion, tossing 4 1/3 innings of one-hit baseball, picking up Holland after his disastrous start. Feldman deserves a lot of credit for giving the Rangers a chance to pull this one out. The Rangers’ bullpen as a whole pitched 8 1/3 innings of shutout baseball with eight strikeouts, which allowed for one of the most exciting finishes to game I have ever seen.
Michael Young and Beltre led off the bottom of the 11th inning with consecutive singles. With runners on first and second, Mike Napoli lofted a fly ball to right field that was misplayed, which set up the Rangers with the bases loaded and nobody out once again. Sound familiar? This time there was a different result.
Cruz, who looked seriously injured after getting drilled in the ninth inning, strolled up to the plate with 51,227 fans on their feet chanting “Cruuuuuz” and delivered another clutch hit: a walk-off grand slam down the line in left. It was his second home run of the game and the first ever game-ending grand slam in MLB postseason history. It was the shot heard ‘round Rangers Ballpark in Arlington as the crowd was sent into a state of euphoria. Cruz was mobbed at home plate and blasted in the face with water from a bottle by Mark Lowe as the Rangers celebrated a 7-3 win and a 2-0 series lead over the Detroit Tigers.
For those that were lucky enough to be at the game, including myself, it will be a moment that you will never forget. It’s one of those moments that you will tell your kids and grandkids about. Fans were jumping around, hugging and high-fiving everybody around them. It didn’t matter if you knew who that person was because he or she was a Rangers fan and that was all that mattered at that point in time.
The Rangers are still two wins away from clinching this ALCS and the Tigers now get to play at least two if not three games in front of their home crowd. This series is far from over, but what a day and night it was on Monday to be a Texas Rangers fan.