Thursday, October 13, 2011

Cruz, Napoli Give Rangers 3-1 Lead over Tigers; Cardinals Take 2-1 Edge in NLCS

Players of the Day for Wednesday, October 12, 2011

American League

Rangers 7 Tigers 3, 11 innings

Mike Napoli
After winning game three and waiting out a rain delay that turned an afternoon affair into an evening interlude, the Detroit Tigers fell behind three games to one in the ALCS, as Mike Napoli and Nelson Cruz provided the winning margin in the top of the 11th inning.

Nelson Cruz
Napoli's single to center scored Josh Hamilton from second base to put the Rangers up 4-3, and Cruz followed with his 4th home run of the series, a three-run shot that pretty much put the game away. All four 11th inning runs came off reliever Jose Valverde, who was used in hope to keep the score tied. Valverde's streak of consecutive saves - 49 in the regular season and three more in the playoffs - remains intact as the inning was not a save situation.

Both Napoli and Cruz made plays in the field that helped keep the game tied. After Brandon Inge tied the game at 3-3 with a solo homer in the 7th, Cruz threw Miguel Cabrera out at the plate in the bottom of the 8th. Napoli's strong arm got Austin Jackson trying to steal second base in the bottom of the 10th, keeping Detroit's speediest runner out of scoring position.

With a 3-1 lead in the series, the Rangers will try to end it Thursday afternoon in Detroit, though they'll have to beat the best in the American League to do so. Justin Verlander, who notched the pitching triple crown with 24 wins, a 2.40 ERA and 250 strikeouts, takes the ball for the start of game five. Verlander is 1-1 in two post-season starts and will be opposed by Ranger starter C.J. Wilson, who was 16-7 with a 2.94 ERA during the regular season. First pitch is slated for 4:19 pm EDT.

National League

Cardinals 4 Brewers 3

Pujols: 636 AVG.
The St. Louis Cardinals took a two games to one lead in the National League Championship Series, scoring all of their runs in the first inning off Milwaukee starter, Yovani Galardo.

David Freese
Albert Pujols set a major league mark with his fifth consecutive extra-base hit on his ground rule double in the first inning, scoring Jon Jay with the Cardinals' second run. Pujols scored on Yadier Molina's ground out into a double play, but David Freese, who went 3-for-4, followed with a double to right field, sending home Matt Holliday with what would prove to be the game-winner. Pujols would single later and draw two walks, going 2-for-2, to improve his series average to a stunning .636 with four doubles a home run and six RBI.

Milwaukee battled back against St. Louis ace, Chris Carpenter, with two runs in the 2nd inning and another in the 3rd, but that was all they could muster of Carpenter - who lasted five inning for the win - and four Cardinal relievers, who put together a string of zeroes in the final four innings, blanking the Brewers without giving up a hit nor walking a batter.

Game four is Thursday night in St. Louis, with Randy Wolf on the mound for the Brewers against the Cardinals' Kyle Lohse. Game time is 8:05 pm EDT.

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