On to the ALCS!!!

Now that the smoke has cleared and i’ve finally recovered from the three-and-a-half-hour heart attack of an incredible Game 5, I’ve had a little time to collect my euphoric thoughts.  First of all, PV hit it on the nose when he said I’d be drinking a victorious brew about 10:45pm on Thursday evening.  It was 10:43.  Plus, I hit it on the nose (bad night for that nose) when I said the Tigers would win the seires in 5 games because of their superior starting pitching depth.

Tigers starting pitchers combined for a 3.46 ERA over 26 innings compared to 5.18 over 19.1 innings for the Yankees over the course of the series.  If not for Curtis Granderson pulling off a couple of miracle catches in Game 4, it would’ve been a much wider margin.  Despite a shaky Game 1 relief appearance on Saturday, Doug Fister returned to his September AL Pitcher of the Month status last night, throwing five strong innings, getting key outs when he had to, and only giving up a solo shot to Robinson Cano. Rick Porcello went a solid six innings in his outing while Max Scherzer was back to his “ace-like” self, stymieing the Bronx Bombers to only one run over seven and a third with seven Ks between his two appearances.  Oh yeah, and there’s that Verlander guy—he’s pretty good.

So now it’s on to Texas for the Tigers’ second American League Championship Series in five years.  I was sad to learn that the series is moving to FOX from TBS where we were enlightened by color analyst Ron Darling and all his insightful gems like “pitching is importan in the postseason” and “I’m surprised Fister is going after Gardner like this with the bases loaded and a full count.”  Thanks Ron.  It says a lot about the value of a Yale education—they’ll give a degree to just about any douchebag. But I digress…

On to the Tigers/Rangers matchup where Detroit took six of nine regular season meetings, outscoring Texas by a 45-37 margin.  The Rangers have long been known for their prodigious power but have only recently put a priority on pitching under the leadership of team owner Nolan Ryan. It’s certainly worked for the reigning AL champs as this is their second ALCS in two years. However, as was the case with the Yankees, the Texas’ starting rotation simply doesn’t match the depth of that of the Tigers. Furthermore, Detroit’s right-handed-heavy lineup will feast on Texas primarily left-handed rotation.

Game 1 will feature that Verlander guy you may have heard of versus C.J. Wilson at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.  Wilson had great numbers during the regular season, going 16-7 with a 2.94 ERA and just over 200 strikeouts.  But he was absolutely rocked for eight runs (six earned) including three long balls by the Rays in his only appearance in the ALDS.  Look for huge games by Miguel Cabrera, Jhonny Peralta and Delmon Young against the lefty in that band box.

Beyond that, rotations haven’t been announced but Scherzer only threw want amounts to be a 32-pitch side session between starts last night so he’ll be more than ready for Sunday’s Game 2.  Fister would be fully rested for Game 3 on Tuesday and should finally be treated to a home start after being thrown to the wolves of Yankee Stadium twice in the last week.  Leyland’s seemingly insane plan to hold Verlander out of last night’s game may prove to be a genius move, keeping the soon-to-be MVP very rested and available to possibly start Games 4 and 7* (*if necessary) in addition to Game 1 on reasonable rest.

I’m sticking with what worked for me in the ALDS and picking the Tigers to win in five again and make their second World Series in five years.  Let’s just hope the outcome is a little kinder this time (and hope the Cardinals lose tonight!).

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