MLB Playoffs 2011: 3 Reasons Detroit Tigers Will Beat Texas Rangers
The Detroit Tigers won a difficult Game 5 in New York against the Yankees on Thursday night to earn a spot in the ALCS.
Their reward? The toughest top-to-bottom batting order in baseball in the Texas Rangers.
Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, Adrian Beltre, Ian Kinsler and company will do their best to slug the Rangers to their second straight World Series appearance.
But, not so fast. Here are three reasons the Tigers can stop the Rangers' momentum and get back to the ALCS for the first time since 2006.
Only Alexi Ogando can beat the Tigers
The Tigers were 6-3 against the Rangers during the regular season, so that's a worrisome sign for the Rangers.
But, even more worrisome is that the only starting pitcher who beat the Tigers was Alexi Ogando.
If he doesn't, he's taking a chance that the regular season stats will hold up and the Tigers will continue to beat up on Rangers starting pitching.
Right now, it looks like Washington will keep Ogando in the bullpen, giving the Tigers an advantage.
Having an all-star bullpen doesn't matter much if they don't have a lead to protect.
Don Kelly is hot right now
Everyone questioned Jim Leyland's decision to play Don Kelly at third base and have him bat second on Thursday night in Game 5 against the New York Yankees.
But Kelly proved everyone wrong with a first inning solo home run to give the Tigers an early 1-0 lead.
Delmon Young then followed with another solo shot, and the Tigers never looked back.
We'll have to see how much Leyland wants to play Brandon Inge against the Rangers, but Kelly has certainly earned some additional playing time somewhere.
Justin Verlander will pitch twice (at least)
Leyland was adamant that he wouldn't use Verlander under any circumstances Thursday night.
That move proved to be genius.
Now, Verlander will be set to pitch Game 1 of the ALCS, meaning he can probably pitch Game 4 and a potential decisive Game 7 as well.
The Tigers don't have any starters who can match Verlander's skill, so Detroit is all but guaranteed two victories.
Then, if a couple of the other Tiger starters can limit the damage against the potent Texas lineup, Detroit will be in a great spot to earn their first trip to the World Series since 2006.
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