ARLINGTON (AP) – Nelson Cruz hit the first game-ending grand slam in postseason history, lifting the Texas Rangers over the Detroit Tigers 7-3 in 11 innings Monday for a 2-0 lead in the AL championship series.
Cruz also hit a tying home run in the seventh inning. His second homer of the game was a high drive to left field off Ryan Perry with nobody out in the 11th, and came after a misplay in the Detroit outfield loaded the bases.
Cruz, hit on the wrist by a pitch in the ninth, connected for the fourth grand slam in the playoffs this year. Ryan Roberts and Paul Goldschmidt of Arizona and Robinson Cano of the Yankees also hit them.
STATS LLC confirmed that Cruz’s shot was the first slam to end a postseason game — with a postscript. Robin Ventura sent a tiebreaking drive over the fence to finish a New York Mets victory against Atlanta in the 1999 NLCS, but was swarmed by teammates between first and second.
Ventura never made it around the bases and was officially credited with a single. His 15th-inning drive for a 4-3 Mets win in Game 5 came to be known as ” the grand slam-single.”
The Tigers and Rangers both blew bases-loaded chances in the ninth. Texas shortstop Elvis Andrus made a juggling, over-the-shoulder catch in shallow center field on a flare by Victor Martinez, cradling the ball against his chest to end the inning. Andrus and Texas part-owner Nolan Ryan each flashed a sheepish smile.
In the Texas ninth, Detroit first baseman Miguel Cabrera started and ended a nifty double play on Mitch Moreland’s sharp grounder. David Murphy hit a flyball to shallow left for the first out, keeping the bases loaded.
Texas relievers combined for 8 1-3 scoreless innings, starting the string shortly after Ryan Raburn’s three-run homer off starter Derek Holland put the Tigers ahead 3-2 in the third.
Game 3 is Tuesday night in Detroit. Colby Lewis, 4-0 in five career postseason starts, pitches for the defending AL champion Rangers against Doug Fister.
Michael Young, the Rangers’ career hits leader, snapped an 0-for-15 postseason slide when he led off the 11th with a single off Perry, the fifth Detroit pitcher. Adrian Beltre and Mike Napoli followed with singles, the latter on a liner to right-center that looked as though it would be caught. Instead, right fielder Andy Dirks let the ball glance off his glove as center fielder Austin Jackson ran behind him.
The ball dropped for a single that loaded the bases. That brought up Cruz, who also homered in Texas’ 3-2 win in the ALCS opener.
After struggling in the first round against Tampa Bay, Cruz is 4 for 7 with a double, three homers and 6 RBIs in the ALCS.
Instead of the scheduled travel day Monday, the Tigers and Rangers were playing Game 2 that had been postponed Sunday because of a forecast that called for more rain that never came a night after the twice-delayed series opener.
Mike Adams, the sixth Texas pitcher, worked a scoreless 11th that ended when Cabrera hit a flyball that Josh Hamilton caught on the warning track in front of the Rangers bullpen in right-center. Adams struck out two in his only inning.
Rangers closer Neftali Feliz escaped a jam in the ninth. After he intentionally walked Cabrera, Martinez hit a shallow fly that Andrus ran down.
In the bottom half, Cabrera fielded Moreland’s grounder and threw home for the force. Catcher Alex Avila relayed back to Cabrera, and the AL batting champ known more for his slugging than fielding, made a slap tag to get Moreland.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)