–RHP Doug Fister gave up singles to the first three batters he faced, falling behind 1-0, but recovered to pitch Detroit back into the American League Championship Series against Texas by working one out into the eighth and leaving with a 5-1 lead, having allowed just four more hits. “Stick with the same game plan,” he said of his first inning. “They hit a few groundsballs that found a hole, which good hitters do.” Five of the seven hits were jam jobs in on the hands. Fister isn’t overpowering but has movement on all his pitches and works every part of the strike zone. He pitched inside a lot, mostly to the right-handed Texas batters, and tried to keep the ball down. He gave up a leadoff double in the eighth, and the runner scored on two straight groundouts. Fister threw 102 pitches, and 74 of them were strikes. “It’s pretty much the same approach,” he said. “Focus on the game plan and take it one pitch at a time.” Manager Jim Leyland said, “Those hits he gave up were three mis-hit balls that found little holes. I thought he put on a pitching clinic. In and out. Moving the ball around, both sides of the plate.”
–DH Victor Martinez strained an intercostal muscle hitting his game-tying home run leading off the fourth inning, and it could be an ongoing concern as the ALCS plays out. Martinez hit his home run batting left-handed and will have to turn around and hit right-handed Wednesday against Texas lefty Matt Harrison — if he’s able to play. Texas might not have been aware of the injury. Even though runners were on first and second with two out, the Rangers might have chosen to be a little more careful to 1B Miguel Cabrera instead of giving him an 0-2 pitch he could punch into the right-field corner to drive in the go-ahead run with two on and two out in the fifth. There might have been a temptation to walk Cabrera and load the bases knowing a lame Martinez was coming up. Martinez never moved his bat while walking on five pitches. “He had that at-bat where he walked and he hit a ball good to left center, so I think he’s fine,” manager Jim Leyland said. “I was very concerned (originally). It was an intercostal muscle. Obviously, I think he’ll be OK. He got through it. And if he can’t, you know what, we’ll play somebody else. That’s what you do this time of year. Find a way to win somehow.”
–3B Don Kelly hit fifth for the first time this season but didn’t bring his hot bat with him. Kelly, who had two hits Monday night, was 0-for-4 as the protector for DH Victor Martinez. Kelly opened the game at third and ended it in right. He probably won’t play in Game 4 because Texas is starting LHP Matt Harrison.
–CF Austin Jackson had an extra hitting session with coach Lloyd McClendon before Detroit’s 5-2 win over Texas and had three straight singles. “I told Mac to have him hit early again Wednesday,” manager Jim Leyland said. “He makes us go. He makes everybody in the dugout feel good. I was asked earlier about dropping him in the lineup, which is a very legitimate question. You know what, this is us. We are what we are. We’ve been doing this for the whole year. We’re either going to win this thing or go down with what we got. There’s no tricks. The lineups are a little different.” Jackson said, “We were working on my leg kick and trying to get my timing down. That’s the main thing, I think, in to trying to get me going.”
–RHP Jose Valverde recorded his third save of the postseason and his 52nd of the year without muffing one. Valverde gave up a leadoff double to CF Josh Hamilton, who got only as far as third base as 1B Miguel Cabrera made a nice play on a hot grounder for the second out of the inning. It was the second straight game Valverde has pitched in the series, and Valverde said afterward he’ll be ready to pitch again Wednesday. Valverde pitched two innings Monday night.
–RHP Joaquin Benoit might have been treated gingerly in the regular season, not working three days in a row and getting adequate rest between appearances, but that is out the window for the postseason. Benoit worked his second straight game and retired both batters he faced. With effectiveness issues plaguing several of Detroit’s bullpen members, Benoit might get pushed to the limit in terms of innings and consecutive appearances.
–1B Miguel Cabrera drove in the go-ahead run with a fifth-inning double and hit his first home run of the league championship round as the leadoff hitter in the seventh. “If you watch baseball now, it’s really interesting,” manager Jim Leyland said. “If you look at the opening day (of the NLCS) at Milwaukee, (Prince) Fielder, (Ryan) Braun … big, big time. If you look at the second game, (Albert) Pujols, big time he came up. Now Cabrera big time, he came up. That’s what this is about. That’s why they’re the big boys.” “You’re not always going to have hits,” Cabrera said. “You have to give a lot of credit to those guys. They pitch me good. You gotta be patient.”
–RF Andy Dirks got his first postseason start and contributed a run to Detroit’s attack. He singled with two out in his third at-bat, stole second and scored on CF Austin Jackson’s base hit up the middle. Dirks possibly could start again, even against a Texas left-hander, if LF Delmon Young can’t play Wednesday afternoon. “It’s exciting to get a start in a playoff game,” Dirks said. “But at the same time, it’s another baseball game and we’ve just got to do our job.”
–LF Delmon Young was scratched from the starting lineup after reporting to the park. Head trainer Kevin Rand told manager Jim Leyland that Young was unable to play because of the strained muscle in his left side, so the manager replaced him with rookie RF Andy Dirks, hitting him ninth. “It stiffened up,” Leyland said. “It’s really sore. I’m not going to go into further detail. That’s all I have for you. I’m not a doctor. He’s hurting. I respect that. If Delmon Young is not in the lineup, believe me, he’s hurting, because he loves to play. I’ll leave it at that.” Young did not participate in batting practice. His sore left side renders him day-to-day.
–RHP Joel Zumaya showed up to deliver the game ball to the pitching rubber for Game 3 of the American League Championship Series. Zumaya has been throwing at Detroit’s spring training base in Lakeland, Fla., as he attempts to come back from soreness in his left elbow. Zumaya can become a free agent at the end of the year. “I don’t know where I’m going to end up next year,” he said. “Hopefully it’s here. I love this place.” Zumaya’s 2010 season was cut short by a broken bone at the tip of his right elbow, and residual soreness in the elbow put him out of action this year following his only appearance of the exhibition season. He hopes to pitch winter ball somewhere.
BY THE NUMBERS
5 — Occasions on which Detroit has loaded the bases in three playoff games against Texas. The Tigers have failed to score in any of the five.
QUOTE TO NOTE
“I was very concerned (originally). It was an intercostal muscle. Obviously, I think he’ll be OK. He got through it. And if he can’t, you know what, we’ll play somebody else. That’s what you do this time of year. Find a way to win somehow.” — Manager Jim Leyland on his DH, Victor Martinez, who strained an intercostal muscle hitting a game-tying home run leading off the fourth inning of Detroit’s 5-2 victory over Texas.
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