video thumbnail

ALCS Gm6: Scherzer, Holland set for Game 6 start

The Tigers say that all of the pressure has been lifted from their side. The Rangers have history and home-field advantage in their corner, needing one victory to advance to their second straight World Series.

Max Scherzer will be asked to extend Detroit's season for another day, while Texas lefty Derek Holland gets a chance to put the finishing touches on what has been an epic American League Championship Series.

Game 6 of the ALCS will be played on Saturday -- the FOX broadcast starts at 7:30 p.m. ET, with first pitch at 8:05 -- at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, where by the end of the weekend, one team will be spraying champagne and one team will be heading home.

"It's October baseball at its finest," the Rangers' Michael Young said. "We definitely can take a step back and realize that there's a lot of good baseball being played. One more win to go for us and we'll be happy."

The Tigers had their backs against the wall in Game 5, and Delmon Young's two-homer game and Justin Verlander's career-high 133 pitches kept their run alive. They must win twice before the Rangers win once, but that doesn't scare Detroit.

"You think we should have any pressure? I don't think so," designated hitter Victor Martinez said. "I don't think we need to have any pressure. I don't know if they have any pressure. It's definitely not on our side, I can really tell you that."

This is the 15th time in the history of the ALCS that the series has gone to a Game 6. In the previous 14 occurrences, the team holding the 3-2 advantage has won the series 10 times; including the 2010 Rangers, who defeated the Yankees in Arlington to advance.

"In my opinion, it's been a tremendous five ballgames," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "If there's anything you want to see in a ballgame, I think the Detroit Tigers and the Texas Rangers have brought it out."

Holland will try to redeem himself after flopping in a Game 2 start at Rangers Ballpark, in which he allowed three runs in 2 2/3 innings before getting the hook. He was 16-5 with a 3.95 ERA in 32 regular-season starts, none of which came against Detroit.

"I was a little anxious [in Game 2]," Holland said. "I felt calm, but everybody said you could see that I was going a little too fast for the way I usually work. So the big thing now is just to control myself."

Scherzer logged a quality start in Game 2 for Detroit, limiting the Rangers to three runs and six hits over six innings in a no-decision. He was 15-9 with a 4.43 ERA in the regular season, scoring a win and two no-decisions against Texas.

"Nothing is going to change for Game 6," Scherzer said. "This is the opportunity of a lifetime, and, for me, it's the most exciting challenge I've ever had to face."

Both teams have had steady traffic leading in and out of the trainers' room in the ALCS. Detroit counts catcher Alex Avila, Young and Martinez among its walking wounded.

For Texas, third baseman Adrian Beltre, plus outfielders Nelson Cruz and Josh Hamilton -- the latter of whom revealed a left groin strain after Game 5 -- have been wincing while playing deep into October.

"I think we are all banged up at this point of the year," Washington said. "We are all dealing with some nagging injuries. But we can play through it."

The Tigers will have relievers Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde -- whom Leyland said were pitching on "fumes and heart" this week -- back in action after being unavailable for Game 5.

"Hopefully that works to our advantage," Leyland said.

The Rangers also lean heavily on their bullpen, considering no Texas starter has offered a quality start in the series. Alexi Ogando has led the charge, permitting only a solo homer in 5 2/3 ALCS innings.

"We certainly want to see our starters get deeper into the ballgame, and [Saturday] hopefully Holland can bring that to us," Washington said. "But I think the bullpen is in great shape."

Texas won the first two games of this year's ALCS at home by a combined score of 10-5, but the series has been very evenly matched -- Texas' run differential is just four runs, having outscored Detroit 24-20.

Leyland talked about needing a few breaks to go his way, and they finally seemed to show up in a clump in the sixth inning of Game 5.

Thanks in part to a third-base bag that proudly resides in Leyland's office, Detroit became the first team in postseason history to hit for a natural cycle (Ryan Raburn single, Miguel Cabrera double, Martinez triple, Young homer).

Detroit can't necessarily count on that every time around -- after all, forget the RBI by third base on Cabrera's double: how many Martinez three-base hits can you realistically ask for?

"Baseball, a lot of times," Avila said, "you've got to be lucky more than good."

Whatever happens in Game 6, both teams would agree that their ALCS experience has been a good one. It produced an enjoyable matchup that will go down as a winner no matter which team finishes on top.

"I just think it's been a great series," Leyland said. "It doesn't get any easier. We're playing a great team. We think we're an outstanding team. We're slugging it out. It never gets easy, but it always gets exciting." Comments