Yesterday, I listed five slumping Tigers that needed to start hitting if the Tigers were going to have a chance to come back from a 2-0 deficit in this League Championship Series. Today, all but one of those batters came through big in the Tigers 5-2 victory over the Rangers.
First, lead off hitter Austin Jackson finally made some contact stroking three singles in five trips. He scored the go ahead run in the fifth and drove home an insurance run in the sixth. Miguel Cabrera drilled an RBI double in the fifth and a solo homer to left in the seventh. Victor Martinez and Jhonny Perlata also added solo homers. The only slumping hitter who continued to struggle was catcher Alex Avila, who struckout three times. Hopefully, his breakout is just around the corner.
If not for the reawakening of the hitters mentioned above, the big story of this game would have been the pitching of Doug Fister. The steady right hander allowed three singles to start the game, but quickly recovered. He got Michael Young to hit into a double play and then retired Adrian Beltre on strikeouts. After that, he never allowed more than one base runner in any inning. In all, he went 7 1/3 innings allowing just two runs on seven hits. It's almost needless to say at this point that he walked nobody. It was a materful performance against a tough Rangers line-up.
All was not perfect in this game however. Fister pitching deep into the game saved a stretched out bullpen somewhat, but Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde did pitch for the second straight day. This time they saved a win, but how much they'll be able to pitch in the next couple of games remains to be seen.
The bigger concern was that Victor Martinez injured his oblique on his home run swing and ran very gingerly around the bases. He stayed in the game and hit a fly ball fairly well in the seventh, but the Free Press reported via twitter that manager Jim Leyland is "very concerned" about the injury.
With Brennan Boesch and Magglio Ordonez already out and Delmon Young also nursing an oblique injury, this new injury is potentially very bad news. Danny Knobler just tweeted that Martinez will probably be playing tomorrow, but I suspect we won't get a definitive answer on the status of Young and Martinez until shortly before game time.