Before the game, Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland had a good feeling about his team, saying he expected them to win Game 5.
“This is not over yet,” Leyland said. “Trust me.”
A few hours later, Leyland proved to be prophetic. The Tigers extended the best-of-seven American League Championship Series with a 7-5 victory over C.J. Wilson and the Texas Rangers on Thursday afternoon at Comerica Park.
Texas now leads the series 3-2, and has two chances to secure a second straight World Series berth at home. Game 6 is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. Saturday at Rangers Ballpark. Derek Holland will start for the Rangers, and Max Scherzer for the Tigers.
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With the game tied 2-2 going to the bottom of the sixth, Ryan Raburn singled off Wilson to start the inning. Then Miguel Cabrera sent one down the third-base line that appeared to take a high hop off the base over Adrian Beltre’s head and into the outfield for an RBI double.
Victor Martinez followed with a run-scoring triple to right, and Delmon Young blasted a two-run home run – his second of the game – to left to put the Tigers up 6-2. Wilson allowed the Tigers to hit for the cycle in the inning, and he was done after allowing six runs on eight hits with two walks and five strikeouts over six innings.
Wilson has gone 0-2 with an 8.04 ERA in three 2011 postseason starts.
The Tigers added a run in the seventh, as Raburn roped a solo shot off Rangers reliever Koji Uehara.
At the start, it seemed like the Rangers were in good shape. They took a 1-0 lead in the first off Tigers starter Justin Verlander. Ian Kinsler opened the game with a double to left, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Josh Hamilton.
Wilson retired the first seven batters he faced before giving up a solo home run to Tigers catcher Alex Avila. Avila went into the at-bat 1 for his last 17, but sent a first-pitch fastball the opposite way over the left-field fence to tie the game at 1-1 in the third.
In the fourth, Young then belted a first-pitch fastball from Wilson into the left-field seats to put the Tigers up 2-1.
The Rangers answered with a run of their own in the fifth. Kinsler drew a one-out walk, moved to second on Elvis Andrus’ single and scored on Hamilton’s single to left-center. Texas had a chance to score more with runners at the corners and one out, but Verlander ended the threat by striking out Michael Young and flying out Beltre.
The Rangers made Verlander throw 33 pitches in the fifth, as he had 96 overall after it.
In the sixth, Texas lost another scoring opportunity. With the bases loaded and one out, Kinsler grounded to third for an inning-ending double play.
Despite a high pitch count, Verlander came out for the eighth. He struck out Beltre, but Mike Napoli singled. Nelson Cruz then belted the 133rd pitch from Verlander, a 100 mph fastball, into the left-field stands to pull the Rangers to within 7-4.
It was the fifth home run of the series for Cruz, the first player to accomplish that feat in one league championship series.
Verlander was done after that, allowing four runs on eight hits with three walks and eight strikeouts over 7 1/3 innings.
The Rangers didn’t have enough late-inning magic in them to comeback against Tigers left-hander Phil Coke. Hamilton had a two-out double and scored on Young's single to right. Beltre drew a walk, but Napoli grounded into a fielder's choice to end the game.