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.

Maybe Alcides Escobar shouldn’t bat leadoff

Alcides Escobar
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Alcides Escobar finished with a .292 OBP this year. He came in at .246 in 117 at-bats in August and .257 in 109 at-bats between September and October, so he wasn’t exactly flying high entering the postseason. Still, that didn’t stop Ned Yost from putting him into the leadoff spot for Thursday’s Game 1 against the Astros.

Yost finally did reconsider hitting Escobar first in September. It took Alex Gordon‘s return to health, plus the previous addition of Ben Zobrist to the lineup, in order to make that happen. However, it didn’t stick. Escobar hit ninth in each of his starts from Sept. 7-26, batting .236 with a .276 OBP during that span. With five games left to go, he was suddenly returned to the leadoff spot. The Royals went on to win all five games. Yost saw it as a sign, even though Escobar went 5-for-22 with no walks in those games.

Escobar went 0-for-4 in Thursday’s loss to the Astros. He did not swing at the first pitch of the game, which probably explains the defeat.

It’s been difficult to argue with Yost since last year’s World Series run and this year’s incredible run out of the game. The blind spot with Escobar, though, gets rather infuriating. One can defend hitting him leadoff against the Astros’ lefties. His career OBP against southpaws is .319 (.316 this year). Against righties, he’s the most obvious No. 9 hitter alive, with a career .258/.290/.342 line (.252/.284/.314 this year). He’s not a pace-setter. He’s not a spark plug. He’s a liability.

Astros top Royals in Game 1 of ALDS

Houston Astros' Jose Altuve, left, celebrates with teammate Luis Valbuena after scoring a run during the first inning in Game 1 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

After shutting out the Yankees in the AL Wild Card game on Tuesday, the Astros beat the Royals 5-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS on Thursday at Kauffman Stadium. Road teams are now 4-0 to begin the 2015 postseason.

The Astros grabbed an early 3-0 lead against Yordano Ventura through two innings. Chris Young took over for the Royals after a 47-minute rain delay and was very effective for the most part, allowing just a solo homer to George Springer over four innings while striking out seven batters. Colby Rasmus, who homered in the Wild Card game, took Ryan Madson deep in the eighth inning to give the Astros’ bullpen some extra breathing room.

Collin McHugh stayed in after the rain delay and ended up tossing six innings while allowing just four hits and one walk. Kendrys Morales did all the damage against him with a pair of solo homers. He’s the first Royals player to hit two home runs in a postseason game since George Brett in the 1985 ALCS.

The Royals’ offense showed some signs of life in the bottom of the eighth inning with back-to-back two-out hits against Will Harris, but Oliver Perez got Eric Hosmer to foul out to end the threat. Luke Gregerson tossed a scoreless ninth inning to finish off the victory.

Consistent with their identity during the regular season, the Astros won despite striking out 14 times. The same goes for the Royals, as they struck out just four times. Despite putting the ball into play more often, the Kansas City lineup wasn’t able to muster anything aside from the home runs by Morales.

Game 2 of the ALDS will begin Friday at 3:45 p.m. ET. Scott Kazmir will pitch for the Astros and Johnny Cueto will get the ball for the Royals.

George Springer homers to extend Astros’ lead over Royals

Houston Astros' George Springer (4) celebrates with teammates after scoring a run in the first inning in Game 1 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
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After Kendrys Morales brought the Royals within one run in the bottom of the fourth inning with his second solo home run of the game, George Springer took Chris Young deep in the top of the fifth to extend the Astros’ lead to 4-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS.

According to Statcast, the ball traveled an estimated 422 feet and left Springer’s bat at 109 mph. Royals fans are happy it was just a solo home run. It could have been worse, as Jose Altuve singled to lead off the fifth inning before being thrown out trying to steal second base during Springer’s at-bat.

The Royals will try to answer as we move to the bottom of the fifth inning at Kauffman Stadium.