ARLINGTON, Texas (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 doubled early, then 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.
“It was amazing,” Cruz said. “First two pitches, I was too aggressive. I hit the ball — foul ball, foul ball. So after that, I told myself just slow down and try to hit a fly ball to the outfield.”
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.
The Rangers’ bullpen has pitched 12 2-3 scoreless innings during the first two games of the series, allowing five hits and three walks while striking out 16.
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 three homers, a double 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.
Detroit left 13 runners on base, including five in the first two innings.
“It’s been a great two games. It didn’t go the right way, obviously,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “They earned it, and we didn’t quite get it done. We haven’t been able to come up with any big hits.”
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.
Tigers starter Max Scherzer bounced off the mound pumping his fist and his glove after getting out of a two-on, no-out jam in the sixth with a 3-2 lead. There was a conversation with Leyland after he got to the dugout, and the right-hander went back out for the seventh.
That was one batter too long.
Cruz led off the seventh by pulling a ball down the left field line that ricocheted high off the pole and that was it for Scherzer.
After Cruz’s leadoff double in the second, Scherzer retired 11 in a row until his trouble in the sixth.
Raburn, who has already replaced two injured sluggers this series, homered right after Cabrera had run home from second base when a 1-2 pitch bounced at the feet of Martinez and caused all kinds of confusion.
Martinez hopped back as if he had been hit by the pitch and went to first base as home plate umpire Larry Vanover and Napoli pointed that way, the catcher apparently appealing a checked swing. Cabrera took off running from second base and crossed home plate, where Holland stood with his arms spread wide in disbelief while Napoli nonchalantly retrieved the ball that had gone to the backstop.
The six-man umpire crew eventually gathered after Texas manager Ron Washington came out to question the call.
They ruled that Martinez was hit by the pitch and sent Cabrera back to second base, which drew Leyland from the Tigers dugout.
“I knew the ball hit him. OK? But it wasn’t called. OK?,” Leyland said. “He checked the ball for polish and it wasn’t called.”
The next batter, Raburn, made all the discussions moot.
Raburn started the ALCS opener in left field in place of Delmon Young, the slugger who was expected to be out this series after being left off the initial roster because of what had been initially as a left oblique strain.
But Young was added to the roster Monday and back in the lineup after Magglio Ordonez re-fractured his surgically replaced right ankle and was done for the season after Game 1 of the championship series. Raburn took over for Ordonez in right field on Monday.