After sweeping the home stand in Arlington on a walk-off grand slam in extra innings by Nelson Cruz yesterday, the Texas Rangers seek a commanding 3-0 lead in the American League Championship Series with the Detroit Tigers today, if they can continue their playoff road success in tonight’s match-up at Comerica Park in Detroit. The Rangers are by far the hottest team remaining in the postseason this year, having won 5 straight games after losing Game 1 to Tampa Bay in the ALDS, however they’ll face a tough challenge tonight in Detroit against a very good Tigers’ offense at home in a must-win situation.
Doug Fister takes the mound for Detroit, and since coming over from Seattle before this season’s trade deadline he’s been simply outstanding. Posting an 8-1 record with a 1.79 ERA in 11 appearances, including a 4-0 record at home with a miniscule 0.98 ERA, Fister is exactly who the Tigers need to help shut down Colby Lewis, who will be pitching for the Rangers tonight in opposition of Fister. Lewis has yet to be beat in the postseason, posting a 4-0 record with a 1.67 ERA, including a shutdown 6 inning, 1 run performance in a 4-3 win against Tampa Bay in Game 3 of the ALCS. However, Lewis notably has struggled with the Detroit Tigers this season, allowing a whopping 13 runs on just 7 1/3 innings of work over two games, while the Detroit bats posted a .476 average against him during 6-5, and 13-7 wins against him. Fister on the other hand has decent numbers against Texas this season, with a 3.86 ERA and a 1-1 record in 2 games started (1 win for the Tigers, 1 loss with the Mariners, who gave him no support in a 4-0 loss).
Though pitching may take center stage for the start of this match-up, the excitement will be around the Rangers and Tigers bats heading into the 3-game set at Comerica Park, which are both in the Top 5 of Major League Baseball in just about every offensive category that exists. Stacked with some of the most talented hitters in the league, we saw the runs open up late in the game last night, towards a 7-3 win for the Rangers. While starting pitching has done a good job dictating the total runs on the game, I fully expect the bats to heat up in tonight’s first game back in Detroit, especially with 11 members of the Tiger’s line-up hitting .300 or better over their career against Colby Lewis. Though the Tigers will be missing Maglio Ordonez (out with an ankle injury), Victor Martinez (5-for-11), Miguel Cabrera (5-for-12) and Austin Jackson (6-for-15) have all had great success against Lewis in their careers, and should be the Tigers to watch for in tonight’s match-up. On the flipside, the walk-off grand slam by Nelson Cruz should have the Rangers bats energized as well, especially as Cruz enters this match-up 7-for-14 lifetime against Fister, though they’ll look to get more production from Josh Hamilton (2-for-10, 2 RBIs) and Michael Young (5-for-17, 1 RBI) facing the former Seattle starter tonight.
Betting Lines for Detroit vs. Texas at Intertops.eu Sportsbook
Detroit enters this match-up back home as the favorite to win with -125 odds to win. However, the betting lines have already begun to shift this morning, with Colby Lewis falling from +128 odds to +115 odds in the last hour, as more money begins to pile up taking the Rangers as the underdog in this match-up, which could be a very good bet considering the level of confidence and swagger the Rangers come into tonight’s game with. The Tigers give up 1.5 runs at +160 price tonight, while the Rangers get 1.5 runs at -180, showing the lack of support for the Rangers getting pushed aside in tonight’s game, which by all accounts should be a close one again (3-2 Game 1 score, 3-3 tie into extra innings before the walk-off GS made it 7-3). The over/under on the match-up stands at 8.5 runs, -115 odds over, -105 odds under, and expecting to see some offensive fireworks tonight as the Tigers look to bounce back against Lewis, we’d say the over bet has a pretty good chance at payoff this evening.
Our Pick to Win:
If there is a time for the Tigers to hand Colby Lewis his first postseason loss, now’s the time they need to do it. Detroit simply cannot afford to fall behind 3-0 to Texas, with the Rangers assured two game back at home to close out the series if necessary. Add in the fact that Texas is just about as comfortable on the road in playoff games as they are at home, and this match-up tonight becomes all the more critical for Detroit to win. With so much on the line, Doug Fister will be on a tight leash unless he can keep Texas to just a run or two through 6 or 7 innings, but expect Tigers’ head coach Jim Leyland to have everyone in the stacked Detroit bullpen ready to support Fister should anything go awry. I like the Tigers to clutch up at home tonight in a must-win situation (as they’ve certainly showed they can do after their Game 5 ALDS win in New York), and pull out a big win tonight 7-3.