DETROIT -- All season, the middle of the Texas Rangers' order has driven in runs and capitalized when they've had chances to break games open.
In Game 3 of the American League Championship Series, though, they didn't get it done. In a 5-2 loss Tuesday, the Nos. 3-5 hitters went 2 for 12 and left seven runners on base, with Josh Hamilton producing the only two hits. The team combined to go 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position.
A lot can change day to day in the postseason, however, as was evident in Game 4 on Wednesday night. The heart of the lineup delivered, at least when it mattered most, as the combined 2 for 14 doesn't tell the whole story.
"We try to produce all the time, but we might press a little bit," said Hamilton, the No. 3 hitter. "Today we weren't hitting the ball the way we wanted to, but when it counted guys stepped up. You're not going to hit all the time, but in those situations, the focus level has got to go up."
With the score tied 3-3 going into the 11th, Hamilton led off with a double off Detroit closer Jose Valverde followed by cleanup hitter Michael Young striking out. But the Tigers decided to intentionally walk Adrian Beltre, who was 0 for 4 on the night but had favorable career numbers against Valverde (3 for 6 with two doubles and a home run). Detroit also wanted to set up a potential double-play grounder.
"I wasn't expecting it," said Beltre, who played through a sore left knee after fouling a ball off it Tuesday night.
The Rangers took it, of course, with Mike Napoli due up. Napoli sent a looping single into center field, and Hamilton read it perfectly to score with ease from second.
Beltre would score in the inning, too, on Nelson Cruz's three-run home run to left-center field.
Afterward, Beltre said his knee felt "great, we won." As to how it felt during the game, Beltre said: "It was OK. It wasn't bad."
Beltre, along with Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez (intercostal strain on his right side) and outfielder Delmon Young (oblique), represent the toughness throughout this series for each team.
"Players on both teams are tough, and they're showing why they're who they are," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "Big-time players, they expect to be in the lineup."
Young has been a big-time player for the Rangers but had struggled in the postseason going into Wednesday's game with a .111 average. But he started to get it together by driving in his first run of the playoffs, and it couldn't have come at a better time.
With two outs and Elvis Andrus at second in a 2-2 game in the sixth, Young lined a single into center field, giving the Rangers a 3-2 lead.
"No matter what the situation is, I feel like I'm going to deliver when I'm up there," Young said. "Game 3 is over with, I can't stress that enough. We don't worry about the at-bats that are over with, man. I never bought into the concept of slumps. An at-bat you had yesterday or last series or last week has nothing to do with the at-bat you're about to have. Every time we're up, we expect to deliver."