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It's a series! Fister steps up big, Tigers belt 3 homers, Rangers rocked in 5-2 loss

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Final - 10.11.2011 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Texas Rangers 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 2 8 0
Detroit Tigers 0 0 0 1 1 2 1 0 X 5 11 0
WP: Doug Fister (2 - 1)
SV: Jose Valverde (3)
LP: Colby Lewis (1 - 1)

Complete Coverage >


BOX

KEY STAT

Doug Fister: 7.1 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 102 pitches, 74 for strikes.

The stat line does not reflect just how well Fister pitched. 4 of the hits allowed were of the seeing eye/broken bat/pure luck variety, and the 2nd run scored after he was pulled for Joaquin Benoit in the 8th Tigers fans at Comerica knew they witnessed one Hell of a performance, and gave Fister a much deserved standing ovation as he left the field.

With a fried pen, a stagnant offense and a fanbase on the verge of imploding, the Tigers wanted...no, NEEDED, Fister to pitch well and go deep into the game. He did, and may have saved the Tigers' season in the process.

Jim Leyland put it succinctly in the post game presser: "Fister put on a clinic."

KEY PLAYS

Victor Martinez's solo home run to open the bottom of the 4th inning, tying the game at 1-1.

Miguel Cabrera's 2 out, RBI 5th inning double, giving the Tigers a 2-1 lead.

Jhonny Peralta's solo home run on the first pitch of the 6th inning, pushing the lead to 3-1.

Cabrera's solo home run in the 7th, a moonshot deep in the left field seats, giving the Tigers a 5-1 advantage.

The 3-4-6 hitters were 5-10, with 3 HR, 4 RBI, 3 R. What a difference a productive middle of the order can make in what looked like a lost cause, huh?

KEY THOUGHTS

We have a playoff series!

Austin Jackson burst out of a post season slump with 3 hits, an RBI and run scored. He may not be a true lead off man, and I wouldn't mind seeing him move down the order in 2012...but as he goes, so goes the Tigers offense.

There was plenty of drama around Martinez's home run. As soon as he swung, you could tell he was injured...well, more than he already is, anyway. Once in the dugout, Martinez threw his helmet in frustration, and went straight to the clubhouse. Cue every Tigers fan thinking the worst. FOX reported he suffered this season's most fashionable injury, a strained oblique. But Martinez gutted his way through the rest of the game. Just keep your fingers crossed Victor can play in the remainder of the series.

Will Martinez play? Via @FreepTigers:

Victor Martinez: "I will play tomorrow unless I am dead when I wake up."

With Delmon Young being scratched from the starting lineup, and Martinez possibly suffering from the same injury, I suggest everyone check their obliques. You just never know.

Alex Avila is visibly hurting and badly struggling at the plate. In the 5th, with the game still in doubt, the Rangers were trying to rally. Fister bounced a pitch in front of the plate. Avila smothered the ball, then threw out Yorvit Torrealba trying to steal. There was no rally. This kind of defensive play is why you can't take Avila out of the lineup.

As well as Don Kelly has played for the Tigers in the post season, he should not be batting behind Martinez. After a 5th inning Martinez walk loaded the bases with 2 out, Kelly had an awful at bat. He ended the inning on a weak dribbler to 3rd, all but over matched at the plate. As if to drive the point home, batting behind Kelly, Peralta led off the 6th by drilling a liner over the left field wall. What could have been...

Andy Dirks had his first hit since September 26th, a single in the 6th, knocking Rangers' starter Colby Lewis out of the game. He stole 2nd, and scored on Jackson's single. Dirks actually manufactured a run. I did not see that coming.

Early on, the fans at Comerica were quiet and ready to turn on the Tigers. Frustration continued to rise after the Tigers couldn't score with 2 on and 1 out in the 2nd. Even Cabrera was booed after meekly grounding out in the 3rd inning. But by the end of the game, the crowd was into the game, the noise getting close to the insanity we heard at Ford Field during the Lions' victory. I expect Comerica to be absolutely rocking tomorrow afternoon.

The FOX broadcast featured the return of noted gasbag Tim McCarver. The entire nation immediately missed substitute color man Terry Francona. Why? No one had a good swing against Fister in the early innings, yet McCarver had the gall to say, "The pitches weren't good enough" after he allowed a few seeing eye hits. Later in the game, McCarver claimed the Peralta trade opened up SS for Asdrubal Cabrera in Cleveland. McCarver either didn't know or completely forgot Peralta was a full time 3rd baseman for the Tribe when the Tigers traded for him. The night was filled with McCarver spewing such tripe.

Joe Buck and Tim McCarver: The broadcast version of Hell on Earth.

If the Tigers are going to come back and win the ALCS, 2 things need to happen. The middle of the order has to produce, and the Tigers' offense has to punish the Rangers' starting pitching before they can get to their lights out bullpen. For the first time in the series, the Tigers did both.

It's a quick turnaround, thanks to MLB's infinite wisdom and their tendency to put TV contracts ahead of fans. Wednesday's first pitch is scheduled for 4:19 PM.

After Monday's painful loss, I know many of you were venting, letting loose with gloom and doom, saying the season was over. Please remember one thing. 1 win or loss does not a series make. It takes 4 wins to advance.

This series is far from over.