The Texas Rangers are one win away from a second consecutive World Series berth.
Mike Napoli did it all, driving in the go-ahead run in the 11th, holding on to the ball after getting bulldozed by Miguel Cabrera in the 8th and gunning down Austin Jackson stealing second in the 10th. And, following Napoli’s go-ahead single, Nelson Cruz belted a three-run home run to send the Rangers to a 7-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series on Wednesday night at Comerica Park.
Texas takes a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series with Game 5 scheduled for 3:19 p.m. CT Thursday in Detroit. C.J. Wilson starts for Texas, and Justin Verlander goes for Detroit.
Game 4 started 2 hours, 13 minutes late because of a rain delay, but it lived up to playoff drama.
With the game tied 3-3 going into the 11th, Josh Hamilton led off with a double to right off Detroit closer Jose Valverde. Michael Young struck out, and then the Tigers intentionally walked Adrian Beltre.
With runners at first and second, Napoli singled to center, and Hamilton read the ball correctly to score easily from second. Cruz then ripped one over the left-center field fence to put the game out of reach, and send the Tigers faithful to the exits.
The Rangers trailed 2-0 going into the sixth before the offense woke up against Tigers starter Rick Porcello.
David Murphy led off with a single to left, the first leadoff man to reach for the Rangers. After Yorvit Torrealba popped out, Ian Kinsler sent a double down the left-field line that caromed off the wall away from Tigers outfielder Delmon Young enough to allow Murphy to score.
With the Detroit infield in, Elvis Andrus drove in Kinsler with a single to right. And, with two outs and the game tied 2-2, Young brought in the go-ahead run with a single to center.
The Rangers seemed destined to close it out with ease from there, as their bullpen lined up well. Alexi Ogando came in to pitch the sixth and seventh.
In the seventh, though, Ogando gave up a game-tying solo homer to Brandon Inge, the Tigers’ No. 9 batter.
The Rangers turned to Mike Adams for the eighth. Adams got through it, paying off the Rangers decision to intentionally walk Miguel Cabrera – who represented the go-ahead run with one out.
Cabrera has been on a tear at the plate the last two games, and gave the Tigers the early 2-0 lead in the third with an RBI double to left-center field off Rangers starter Matt Harrison.
Harrison allowed two runs on three hits with three walks and three strikeouts over five innings.