Some parts of the state of Texas hadn’t seen rain in months, but the skies decided to open up in Arlington on Saturday night during Game 1 of the ALCS. That didn't stop the Texas Rangers who survived two different rain delays in the fifth inning to beat the Detroit Tigers 3-2 and take a 1-0 series lead.
The game started with Tigers’ ace and likely Cy Young award winner Justin Verlander on the mound, but it would be the Texas offense that struck first. After Mike Napoli led off the second inning with a single, David Murphy hit an RBI triple that one-hopped the wall in right-center field that gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead. The Rangers weren’t done there though as Ian Kinsler hit an opposite-field RBI single with two outs to put the Rangers up 2-0.
Rangers’ starter C.J. Wilson struggled early, but got out of some big jams. With the bases loaded in the first inning, Wilson got Magglio Ordonez to ground into a double play to Adrian Beltre at third to keep the Tigers off the board. The Tigers had two on with only one out in the second inning, but Wilson got Brandon Inge to strike out and Austin Jackson to ground out to end the inning.
The Rangers kept the offense coming in the fourth inning as Nelson Cruz had just his second hit of the postseason but it was a solo home run to left off Verlander to extend the Rangers lead to 3-0. The Rangers wouldn’t score anymore, but their bullpen would make it hold up.
In the top of the fifth inning, the rain hit Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. The first rain delay lasted 41 minutes and Wilson returned to the mound with one on and one out. However Wilson struggled after the delay, giving up an RBI double to Jackson, back-to-back walks and a wild pitch that scored another run, and all of a sudden it was 3-2.
The rain came again before the top of the fifth inning was even over, this time a one hour and nine minute delay. The rain ended the night for both starting pitchers with neither of them making it through the fourth inning. Verlander took the loss, giving up three runs on five hits while striking out five in his four innings of work. Wilson pitched 4 2/3 innings, giving up two runs on six hits with six strikeouts and five walks.
When play resumed, the Rangers called upon left-handed reliever Michael Gonzalez to get Alex Avila out with the bases loaded in a one-run game. Gonzalez did just that, getting Avila to ground out to second base to keep the game at 3-2. Alexi Ogando pitched the sixth and seventh innings with electric stuff, striking out three, and picked up the win in relief. It was the fourth time Ogando has beaten the Tigers this season with the other three wins coming as a starter.
Darren Oliver got his two guys out in the eighth inning and Mike Adams struck out his only batter of the night to end the eighth. Neftali Feliz came on in the ninth and struck out the side to pick up his fourth save in as many opportunities this postseason. His fastball reached 101mph as he blew away the Tigers’ hitters to shut the door.
The bullpen came up huge for the Rangers, throwing 4 1/3 innings of shutout baseball with eight strikeouts. Game two of the ALCS is scheduled for Sunday night at 6:45 local time, but more rain is expected, so stay tuned.