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Nelson Cruz's Homer Lifts Rangers Past Tigers, 3-2, In Game 1 Of ALCS

Rain once again prevented Justin Verlander from pitching deep into Game 1 of a playoff series for the Detroit Tigers. This time around, he got four innings in. But he allowed one run too many, as the Texas Rangers won the first game of the ALCS, 3-2.

The Rangers took an early 2-0 lead on a RBI triple by David Murphy and run-scoring single from Ian Kinsler in the second inning. But it was Nelson Cruz’s home run to lead off the fourth that ultimately proved to be the difference in the ballgame.

One inning later, rain forced a delay and essentially ended Verlander’s night. (He likely wasn’t going to be in the game that much longer, having thrown 82 pitches.) But when play resumed, the Tigers began to mount a comeback.

Ramon Santiago doubled to lead off the fifth (before the umpires called for a delay) and scored on a double from Austin Jackson. Rangers starter C.J. Wilson wasn’t sharp following the delay, walking Ryan Raburn and Miguel Cabrera, then throwing a wild pitch that allowed Jackson to score and make it a 3-2 ballgame. Play was then delayed due to rain yet again.

Altogether, rain delayed the game for nearly two hours.

Rick Porcello, Phil Coke and Ryan Perry pitched four scoreless innings of relief to keep the Tigers close. But Detroit’s lineup couldn’t break through against the Rangers’ impressive bullpen. Five relievers allowed only one Tigers hit over 4 1/3 innings.

Alexi Ogando continued his dominance over Detroit with two hitless innings and got the win. (Ogando went 3-0 with a 1.29 ERA in three starts this season.) And after a bunt single by Santiago (who went 3-for-4) to lead off the ninth, Neftali Feliz blew away the Tigers, striking out the side. Wilson Betemit, Jackson and Raburn were never really even close to making solid contact.

The Rangers and Tigers are back at it Sunday night for Game 2 of the ALCS. Game time is set for 7:45 p.m. ET. Max Scherzer (15-9, 4.43) starts for Detroit, while Derek Holland (16-5, 3.95) takes the mound for Texas. Scherzer went 1-0 with a 4.76 ERA in three starts versus the Rangers this season. Holland hasn’t faced the Tigers this year.