ALCS, NLCS Game 2 previews
Rain postponed Game 2 of the American League Championship Series on Saturday, but it was still an eventful day for the LCSs. The Brewers did Harvey's Wallbangers proud by out-slugging the Cardinals, 9-6, to take a 1-game-to-0 lead in the National League Championship Series, and the Tigers lost yet another outfielder to injury.
• The rain that forced Game 2 to be pushed from Sunday night to Monday afternoon won't alter the schedule for the remainder of the series, but it will give the pitchers on both teams an extra day of rest. That's big for Detroit starter Max Scherzer, who threw 32 pitches in relief in the final game of the Division Series against the Yankees on Thursday and will now have had three day's rest since that appearance rather than just two. It also could increase the availability of Rangers reliever Alexi Ogando, who made a dominant 32-pitch appearance in Game 1 on Saturday.
• The players may have been idle on Sunday, but the Tigers weren't, as they announced that outfielder Magglio Ordoñez will miss the remainder of the postseason due to a broken ankle. Ordoñez originally broke the ankle in late July of last season and it had been bothering him all season, prompting a month-long disabled list stay in May and limiting his effectiveness and availability thereafter. However, Ordoñez had started in rightfield in all but one of the Tigers' six games this postseason and gone 5-for-13 with a double and two walks (one intentional) before being removed in the fifth inning of Game 1 of this series for a pinch-runner. The 37-year-old Ordoñez is now contemplating retirement.
Ordoñez's absence means the Tigers had to activate Delmon Young, who had earlier been left off the ALCS roster because of an oblique injury, to take his place. That's a somewhat desperate move but the Tigers didn't have much of a choice. With Brennan Boesch (thumb) already lost for the year and Young looking lost for the series, Detroit was effectively out of outfielders. They didn't have a single person left in the organization who played outfield for them this year and was not either injured or already on the playoff roster.
• Tigers manager Jim Leyland is sticking with his plan to not use ace Justin Verlander on short rest in Game 4, despite the fact that Verlander only threw 82 pitches due to the rain delays and Game 4 starter Rick Porcello was used in relief. Thus if the Rangers can beat Max Scherzer tonight, they'll head to Detroit knowing that they can wrap up their second straight pennant without having to face Verlander again.
• Scherzer was one of the stars of the Division Series against the Yankees, twirling six shutout innings as the Tigers' Game 2 starter and winner and impressing in 1 1/3 innings of relief in the decisive Game 5, in which they only run he allowed scored after he was removed. That performance, which took place entirely in Yankee Stadium and included seven strikeouts in those 7 1/3 innings, belied his regular-season home/road split, which saw his ERA swell to 5.23 away from Comerica Park due in part to a home-run rate of 1.9 per nine innings, nearly twice the league average. Scherzer's three regular-season starts against the Rangers fell in line with that split as he twice held the Rangers to two runs in six innings at home but gave up five runs in five innings in his lone start in Arlington.
• Holland had a similar division series to Scherzer, winning his Game 2 start against the Rays and throwing 1 1/3 innings of relief in the clincher, though he was less impressive in his start, allowing three runs (two unearned) in five innings while striking out just two. Holland had a significantly higher ERA at home this season, but park factor and luck on balls in play explain away a lot of that. Holland didn't face the Tigers at all this year, his last appearance against them coming in a start last September in Arlington, and the only Tiger with more than six career plate appearances against Holland is the injured Delmon Young. Given how well Holland pitched in the second half of this season, going 10-1 with a 2.77 ERA and three shutouts in his final 15 starts, it's likely that the Tigers will see a very different Holland tonight than they saw more than a year ago.
• The Rangers and Tigers have combined for seven wins in this postseason. Five of them, including Game 1 of this series, have been one-run games, and the other two were both two-run games.
• How close was Game 1? The Tigers had more hits and more walks and just as many hits with runners in scoring position (one) as the Rangers, but the Rangers had the game's only home run, a solo homer by Nelson Cruz off Verlander, and that was the difference. It didn't help that the Tigers struck out 14 times and thus left more runners on base and in scoring position. For that, much of the credit should go to the
• Ramon Santiago had more hits in Game 1 of this series (three) than he had in 14 at-bats in the Division Series (two). He was the only player on either team with multiple hits in Game 1.
• With their Game 1 win, the Brewers improved to 4-0 in home games in this postseason after having posted the best home record in baseball during the regular season. What more, as Craig Sager reported during the TBS broadcast of Sunday's game, according to Brewers owner Mark Attanasio, his team is 29-10 at home when the roof and side panels of Miller Park are open, as they were in Game 1 and as baseball hopes they are expected to be for Game 2.
• Edwin Jackson faced the Brewers three times in August after being acquired by the Cardinals at the trading deadline. In the first, in Milwaukee, he gave up three home runs to Casey McGehee (who hit just 13 on the season) and a fourth to Corey Hart on his way to giving up 10 runs (eight earned) in seven innings. The next two were both pitching duels with his Game 2 opponent, Shaun Marcum. In the first, in St. Louis, Jackson and Marcum each pitched six innings, passing a 3-3 tie on to the bullpens in a game the Cardinals eventually lost. In the second, in Milwaukee on August 30, both pitched seven innings with Jackson coming out ahead by the eventual final score of 2-1, though both of Marcum's runs were unearned due to consecutive errors by Prince Fielder and second baseman Jerry Hairston Jr.
• Those three home runs remain McGehee's only times on base against Jackson in 13 career at-bats. Hairston, who has replaced McGehee at third base in the postseason and emerged as one of the Brewers leading hitters, going 8-for-20 with four walks and moving into the second spot in the lineup in the opening game of this series, is 6-for-11 with two walks against Jackson in his career and should remain at third base for Game 2. Hart (5-for-9, 2 HRs), Nyjer Morgan (5-for-9, 2B, 3B), and Rickie Weeks (2-for-4, HR, BB) have all had success against Jackson in small samples, though Game 1 hitting heroes Ryan Braun (3-for-12), Prince Fielder (2-for-13), and Yuniesky Betancourt (4-for-24) have not in only slightly larger ones.
• Ryan Braun had a double, a walk and a 465-foot home run in five plate appearances in Game 1 and is now hitting .500/.577/1.000 in 22 at-bats in this postseason.
• Since that disaster outing against the Brewers on August 3, Jackson has gone 5-1 with a 3.13 ERA in 11 starts including a quality start and win in Game 4 of the Division Series against the Phillies.
• Shaun Marcum faced the Cardinals four times during the regular season, turning in three quality starts and one disaster (more earned runs than innings pitched). Three of those starts came at home, and a separate group of three (the disaster and the two above starts against Jackson) came in August, so the Cardinals hitters should be very familiar with what Marcum has to offer and perhaps even with how he pitches them. That doesn't mean they'll necessarily be comfortable. Collectively the Cardinals' expected starting nine for Game 2 (including Jackson and second baseman Nick Punto) have hit a combined .205/.263/.216 in 88 career at-bats against Marcum, and Albert Pujols and Lance Berkman are a combined 2-for-24 (.083) with no extra-base hits against him.
• Encouraging as those numbers may be, Marcum has allowed five or more runs in four of his last five starts, including his disastrous Game 3 start in the Division Series against the Diamondbacks, which ended with Paul Goldschmidt's fifth-inning grand slam and Marcum tossing his glove in the air in exasperation like a Little Leaguer. In fact his line in his last two starts has been nearly identical. In both he allowed seven runs in 4 2/3 innings while walking three and giving up one home run. One of those came on the road in the playoffs. The other came at home against the Pirates.
• Brewers closer John Axford was hit on the right hip and forearm with a comebacker on the final play of Game 1. X-rays were negative and the Brewers expect that he'll be available for Game 2, but that could change before the ninth inning rolls around.
• Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia hit Prince Fielder in the arm with his first pitch after Ryan Braun's first-inning home run in Game 1, prompting home plate umpire Gary Darling, who was clearly conscious of some of the