Cruz's slam in 11th gives Rangers 2-0 lead in ALCSOct 11, 2011 - 1:56 AM
All it took was two days, 11 innings and a one-of-a-kind home run.
Cruz belted the first walkoff grand slam in postseason history in the bottom of the 11th on Monday to give Texas a 7-3 win over the Tigers in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series.
Cruz, whose solo homer in Game 1 was the difference in a 3-2 win, sent Ryan Perry's 1-2 slider into the left field seats and celebrated the blast in a mob at home plate with his teammates.
"It was amazing," said Cruz, who also ripped a game-tying solo homer in the seventh inning and was hit on the right arm by a pitch in the ninth.
Game 3 is Tuesday in Detroit, a quick turnaround after Game 2 was postponed Sunday by the threat of inclement weather, although it never rained.
Turns out, the only reign in Arlington belonged to the Rangers.
Cruz's heroics allowed the defending AL champions to remain perfect in three Game 2s at home.
"The first two pitches I was too aggressive. I hit the ball, foul ball, foul ball," said Cruz. "After that, I told myself just slow down and try to hit a fly ball to the outfield."
Two innings earlier, both teams escaped bases-loaded jams in the ninth on heart-stopping defensive plays.
Texas shortstop Elvis Andrus, tracking back into the outfield, squeezed a Victor Martinez blooper against his chest after it popped out of his glove, ending the top of the inning.
Then, the Tigers and closer Jose Valverde got three straight outs to escape their jam -- the last two coming on a double play grounder to first baseman Miguel Cabrera, who threw home for the first out and tagged Mitch Moreland near the bag for the second.
Cruz's homer in the seventh inning chased Tigers starter Max Scherzer from the game. Perry (0-1) was the fifth pitcher used by a Detroit team now tasked with trying to climb out of an 0-2 hole without injured outfielder Magglio Ordonez.
Ryan Raburn's three-run homer in the third inning gave the Tigers the lead, but the AL Central champs didn't cross the plate again.
"It's been a great two games," said manager Jim Leyland. "It didn't go the right way, obviously. They earned it, and we didn't quite get it done.
"We haven't been able to come up with any big hits. That's really hard. We've had some opportunities, but up to this point, we just haven't been able to do that."
Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre hit RBI doubles in the first inning for a 2-0 Rangers lead that only held up until the third. Starter Derek Holland lasted just 2 2/3 innings, followed by 4 1/3 scoreless innings from Scott Feldman.
Mike Adams (1-0) worked around a single in the 11th to earn the win.
Michael Young, Beltre and Mike Napoli hit three consecutive singles off Perry before Cruz's blast, which was only technically the first walkoff homer in postseason history.
Robin Ventura famously ended Game 5 of the 1999 NLCS with a walkoff grand slam single in the 15th inning. His game-winning homer for the Mets over the Braves was ruled a single because Ventura never made it around the bases.
"Obviously, it's a horrible feeling," Perry said. "You feel like you let down your whole team."
Ordonez will miss the rest of the playoffs with a fractured right ankle he broke for the first time in July 2010. Delmon Young, left off the ALCS roster initially because of a strained left oblique muscle, took his place in the lineup and was 0-for-4 in the No. 3 hole.
The Tigers will turn to mid-season trade acquisition Doug Fister as a stopper in Game 3, while the Rangers will start Colby Lewis.
Holland recovered from letting the first two batters of the game reach base, and the Rangers took a 2-0 lead on the doubles by Hamilton and Beltre in the bottom of the first inning.
After Cabrera hit a one-out double in the third, Leyland argued that Martinez wasn't hit by a pitch on the right foot. Why? Because Cabrera had come all the way around from second base to score when the ball skipped all the way toward the backstop.
Leyland protested, but it didn't matter in the end. Raburn hammered a Holland fastball to left field for a three-run homer that gave Detroit its 3-2 lead.
Later, in the top of the ninth, Ramon Santiago hit a two-out single for the Tigers, forcing Rangers manager Ron Washington to pull right-hander Alexi Ogando after 1 2/3 innings for Michael Gonzalez, favoring a lefty-lefty matchup with Don Kelly.
The move backfired when Kelly doubled to right, and right-handed closer Neftali Feliz was brought into replace Gonzalez.
After an intentional walk to right-handed slugger Cabrera loaded the bases, switch-hitter Martinez hit a soft blooper behind the diamond that Andrus scrambled to get and nearly let slip away.
The ball snow-coned, then popped out of the shortstop's glove. But he held it against his chest, over the letters of his jersey, and smiled broadly as he headed back to the dugout.
Beltre drove Valverde's first pitch off the left field wall in the bottom of the ninth, Napoli was intentionally walked and Cruz was hit on the arm by a pitch to load the bases. David Murphy flied out before Moreland grounded into the double play.
Texas improved to 4-4 all-time in Game 2s...The Rangers had just three rain delays and one postponement in their entire 81-game home schedule during the regular season.
- DETROIT: 3
Oct 10 8:47 PM
- Nelson Cruz lead-off Home Run (2) to left. David Murphy due up.
Tigers 3, Rangers 3 Bot 7, 0 OutsOct 10 6:57 PM
- Ryan Raburn one-out, three-run Home Run (1) to left scored Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez. Jhonny Peralta due up.
Tigers 3, Rangers 2 Top 3, 1 OutOct 10 5:32 PM
- Adrian Beltre double to right scored Josh Hamilton with two out. Runner on second and Mike Napoli due up.
Tigers 0, Rangers 2 Bot 1, 2 OutsOct 10 4:45 PM
- Josh Hamilton double to left scored Elvis Andrus with one out. Runner on second and Michael Young due up.
Tigers 0, Rangers 1 Bot 1, 1 OutOct 10 4:41 PM
- DETROIT: 0
Top 1, 0 Outs
Oct 10 4:20 PM
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