Friday, October 14, 2011

Season Saving Wins

There was a chance both LCS' would have been short. Both the Tigers and the Brewers needed a win. The circumstances were different; Detroit was down to it's last game, while the Brewers needed to avoid getting into a 3-1 series hole. And the other different circumstance was that the Brewers were going with Randy Wolf to get them back in the series, their number 4 starter, while the Tigers had Justin Verlander, the soon-to-be Cy Young winner and possible MVP.

What happens? Both men save the season.

Verlander had the tougher task. Not only for the obvious of not allowing the Rangers eliminate the Tigers last night, but he needed to give Joakim Benoit and Jose Valverde a day off after both men pitched three straight days. So one thing you were guaranteed to see was that Verlander was going to throw until his arm couldn't throw anymore.

Just like it's been all playoffs, Verlander hasn't been dominant. He's been hit, but the damage always seems to be mitigated. Just one run in the 1st inning. Holds the Rangers to one run in the 5th (though a inch or two to the right and Adrian Beltre knocks the ball out). Then loads the bases in the 6th, and faces Ian Kinsler, who was hitting him hard all game long. First pitch and a double play, ending the inning. It was at that point which Verlander was rewarded for his escapability, as the Tigers put up 4 in the bottom half, helped by the 3rd base bag.

Verlander finished the game after a Nelson Cruz HR, but with a lead. Enough outs for Phil Coke to close the door and to set up a return trip to Arlington.

Meanwhile, Randy Wolf was outstanding, better than Verlander. He goes 7 innings strong, only giving up a couple solo HR's. That was enough when you pitch for the Brewers, who predictably got to Kyle Lohse. It was more redemption for Wolf, after he was hit hard in Game 4 of the last round against Arizona.

Now, the Brewers-Cards series is up for grabs, which benefits Milwaukee who are great at home, plus they have Zack Greinke pitching the road start. It would seem to me that St. Louis needs to win tonight so they don't have to win two games at Miller Park. Of course, if the Cardinals are "zombie-like", as Jeff Passan suggests, then maybe they would prefer to have to win two in Milwaukee. The best of three begins tonight.

As for the ALCS, tomorrow is Game 6, with Game 2 starters Derek Holland and Max Scherzer doing battle. It will be interesting to see who gets this game to the bullpens with a lead. Especially with Benoit and Valverde each getting two days off. It should be a fun weekend of baseball and Justin Verlander and Randy Wolf are big reasons for that.Link

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