POSTED: Saturday, October 15, 2011 - 8:43pm
UPDATED: Saturday, October 15, 2011 - 9:29pm
For all the damage Nelson Cruz has wrought when making contact in this American League Championship Series, a checked swing -- or was it? -- helped ignite what turned into a record nine-run third inning for the Rangers on Saturday night en route to a 15-5 ALCS clinching victory over Detroit to give Texas to their second consecutive AL pennant.
The Rangers had taken a 3-2 lead by the time Cruz got to the plate with runners on first and second, and after Cruz's check swing gave him a full count, he took his second walk of the series.
On a 2-and-2 fastball from Tigers starter Max Scherzer, Cruz held up the powerful swing that has produced five homers in this series, and Tigers catcher Alex Avila immediately appealed to first-base umpire Tim Welke. After Welke's "safe" call indicated Cruz did not swing, Cruz took his base a pitch later and Scherzer took a walk back to the dugout after a rough 2 1/3-inning performance.
From there, it was on, as the Rangers used two-run singles by David Murphy and Ian Kinsler and the second of a pair of two-run doubles by Michael Young to bust out to a 9-2 advantage in a game that put the Rangers in the World Series for the second straight year.
The nine-run outburst was the biggest inning in a postseason game for the Rangers and the biggest overall since the Angels put up 10 runs in the seventh inning of Game 5 of the 2002 ALCS against the Twins. Also, Young's two extra-base hits in an inning marked the first such inning in LCS play and the fourth overall, the other three coming in the World Series, the last coming from Jacoby Ellsbury of Boston in 2007.
Texas now awaits the winner of the NLCS. St. Louis can punch their ticket tomorrow in Game 6 at Miller Park leading their series with Milwaukee 3-2.