A fifth-inning rain storm caused two hours of delay time in Saturday’s ALCS opener at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, stripping C.J. Wilson of his command and forcing Justin Verlander from the game. A battle of aces turned into a battle of bullpens. And while both relief corps posted zeroes, it was the fellas from Texas who came away victorious.
Entering to a bases-loaded mess following the second of two rain-induced pauses, Rangers lefty Mike Gonzalez got Tigers catcher Alex Avila to hit into a two-out groundout to end the fifth inning.
Alexi Ogando, a highly effective starter during the regular season, then took over in the top of the sixth. He delivered two scoreless innings, fanning three Tigers and yielding no hits. Darren Oliver followed and retired both batters he faced before giving way to trade-deadline acquisition Mike Adams, who got Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta to chase a fall-off-the-cliff breaking ball to end any potential threat in the eighth.
Neftali Feliz closed it all out in the top of the ninth, at one point hitting 101 mph on FOX’s radar gun.
The Rangers battled the rain and put trust in their bullpen on the way to a 3-2 ALCS Game 1 victory.
The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.
Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.
As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.