Detroit Tigers v Texas Rangers - Game Six

Rangers explode in third inning, jump way ahead of Tigers in ALCS Game 6

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Ramon Santiago, the Tigers’ No. 9 hitter, smacked a leadoff single to open the third inning, but center fielder Austin Jackson struck out for the 19th time this October and right fielder Ryan Raburn hit into his second double play of the night to end the threat.

In the bottom half of the third, perhaps sparked by Holland’s quick work on the mound, the Rangers’ bats came alive. With shortstop Elvis Andrus on base via a walk and outfielder Josh Hamilton aboard courtesy of a single, designated hitter Michael Young delivered a two-run double down the left field line, tying the game 2-2. Adrian Beltre poured on the third run of the frame with a well-struck single up the middle. Rangers 3, Tigers 2.

But the offensive explosion had only just begun.

To chants of “Nap-o-li,” the hot-hitting catcher (first name: Mike) then drew a walk. To chants of “Cruuuuuuz,” Nelson then did the same. The back-to-back base-on-balls drove Scherzer from the game after just 2 1/3 innings and forced Tigers manager Jim Leyland to turn prematurely to his ‘pen. It didn’t help much.

Making his first appearance of the ALCS, 25-year-old left-hander Daniel Schlereth, son of NFL analyst and former Super Bowl champ Mark Schlereth, yielded a two-run single to David Murphy. Rangers 5, Tigers 2.

ALCS Game 4 starter Rick Porcello came on in relief of Schlereth, but he couldn’t stop the bleeding due in large part to a blown call at second base. After allowing pinch-hitter Craig Gentry to reach via that missed out, Ian Kinsler laced a two-run bases-loaded single between the left side of the infield. Young then collected his second run-scoring hit and his third and fourth RBI of the third inning with a double down the right field line.

Texas has a 9-2 lead in this ALCS Game 6 as we move to the top of the fourth. They’ll advance to the World Series for the second time in as many years if the Tigers can’t mount a comeback. It’s party time in Arlington.

Tigers in discussions with Jordan Zimmermann

Jordan Zimmermann
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.

Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.

Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.

Blue Jays still focused on upgrading their pitching

Marco Estrada
AP Photo/LM Otero

Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.

The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.

Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.

Report: Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”

Jonathan Papelbon
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.

Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.

The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.

Minor league home run king Mike Hessman retires

NEW YORK - JULY 29:  Mike Hessman #19 of the New York Mets bats against the St. Louis Cardinals on July 29, 2010 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Mets defeated the Cardinals 4-0.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.

Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.

Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.