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Rangers 3, Tigers 2 Snap Reaction: Sometimes a knee makes all the difference

April 22, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Drew Smyly (33) pitches in the first inning against the Texas Rangers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE
April 22, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Drew Smyly (33) pitches in the first inning against the Texas Rangers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE

The Texas Rangers beat the Detroit Tigers 3-2 in 11 innings, taking the weekend series 3 games to 1. The Rangers got help from both a blown call in the 11th inning, and the Tigers' offense taking the day off after the 6th inning.

In the 1st, Josh Hamilton continued his scary good April, taking a Drew Smyly pitch over the right field wall and giving the Rangers a 1-0 lead. But Smyly settled in after the Hamilton home run, going toe to toe with the Rangers' powerful lineup, pitching 6 strong innings, allowing only the 1 run and 5 hits. It was an excellent performance by Smyly against what may be the best offense, 1 through 9, in the major leagues.

Ramon Santiago lead off the 3rd inning with a triple in the right center gap off Rangers starter Colby Lewis. After Austin Jackson meekly grounded to Lewis and Brennan Boesch struck out, it appeared the Tigers were going to strand Santiago. With Miguel Cabrera at the plate, Lewis bailed the Tigers out by uncorking a wild pitch, Santiago scrambling home standing up, tying the game 1-1. Cabrera made the wild pitch moot, drilling a liner off the right center field wall, only to be thrown out at 2nd on a great throw by Nelson Cruz.

In the 6th, the Tigers' offense made a ton of noise, but could only score 1 run. Austin Jackson led off with a bomb to left center, which was caught over 400 feet later, near the warning track. Boesch then crushed a Lewis pitch, a liner deep over the wall in right, giving the Tigers their first lead of the day, 2-1. The show of warning track power continued, as Cabrera pounded a high fly to the track in left center for the 2nd out. Singles from Prince Fielder and Delmon Young set up Alex Avila. Avila also hit the ball a ton, only to be the Tigers third loud out of the inning, a warning track fly to deep left.

When combined, the Tigers outs in the 6th carried close to 1300 feet. Lewis was counting his lucky stars Tigers' bats found the deepest reaches of the Comerica National Park outfield, keeping the score 2-1 instead of 5-1.

After Octavio Dotel pitched a scoreless 7th, Joaquin Benoit took over in the 8th inning. Benoit walked Andrus with one out. Phil Coke was called on for the lefty-lefty matchup with Hamilton. Andrus took off for 2nd on a wild pitch. Trying to make a play, Avila threw the ball into center. allowing Andrus to advance to 3rd on his second throwing error of the day (not that you could tell what was going down, thanks to FSD's shoddy camera work). Hamilton's sac fly to right easily scored Andrus, and just like that, the game was tied 2-2. Worst of all, Smyly lost a shot at his first major league victory.

After Coke stranded Mike Napoli at 2nd base in the top of the 9th, and the Tigers went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning, it was off to extras we went.

Jose Valverde entered the game in the 10th, a non-save situation...and he did fine. Save for a walk of Hamilton, it was a relatively drama free inning for the Big Potato. But the tigers bats had long gone limp, a 1-2-3 10th meant 13 consecutive Tigers had taken a seat.

Thad Weber made his major league debut in the 11th, and it quickly went sideways. Weber walked the first batter he faced, Cruz. Napoli didn't hit Weber hard, but his ground ball found the hole at short, 2 on and no one out. Yorvit Torrealba was going to bunt, took strike 2, then lined a single over short to load the bases.

The Rangers called for a squeeze, Alberto Gonzalez got the bunt down, and Weber didn't have a play at any base, everyone safe. Replays showed the bunt was off of Gonzalez's knee, and should have been called foul. But the home plate umpire Tim Welke missed the call, the gift run giving the Rangers a 3-2 lead, and ultimately the victory. Leyland complained bitterly, but the call had already been blown. Making the Tigers all the more bitter was turning a 5-2-3 double play on the next batter.

Closer Joe Nathan entered the game for the Rangers. Cabrera singled with 2 out, keeping hope alive. But once again,the Tigers could only make a loud out. Fielder just missed going yard, his high fly ball down the line was caught just short of the wall.

Sometimes the calls go against you, though Weber did not help himself at all by loading the bases with no one out in the first place. Also doing the Tigers no favors was their offense going missing after the 6th inning. Their only hit from the 6th on was Cabrera's 11th inning single.

Tigers' rookie Thad Weber took the loss in his debut. Rangers' reliever Robbie Ross, who pitched the 10th, received credit for his 3rd win of the season, while Nathan nailed down his 4th save. The Rangers are now 13-4 on the young season, the Tigers 10-6.