video thumbnail

ALCS Gm3: Lewis, Fister face off in Game 3

The Rangers are well aware that Detroit shouldn't rank highly on their list of favorite road cities. In fact, they own the worst record at Comerica Park of any American League team since the building's gates opened in 2000.

Yet Texas will bring a commanding 2-0 AL Championship Series lead to the Motor City, daring the Tigers to claw back. The Rangers could move one win away from a second World Series berth in as many seasons with Tuesday's Game 3 at 8:05 p.m. ET on FOX.

"Going back there and playing three games, old history says that we don't do well there," the Rangers' Josh Hamilton said. "Hopefully, we're going to have a different feel about things going in leading, 2-0, and we can just go in there and play our game."

Hamilton's grasp on the record books is firm. Texas is an AL-worst 23-34 (.404) within Detroit's city limits since the Tigers abandoned old Tiger Stadium to move into their new digs on Woodward Avenue.

Rangers manager Ron Washington is planning to shake up his lineup a little for Game 3. Michael Young snapped an 0-for-16 skid with an 11th-inning single in Game 2 and is set to bring his glove out to first base.

Washington also said that he would like to start Yorvit Torrealba behind the plate to flash the signals for starter Colby Lewis.

"I'd like to get Torrealba behind the plate, and I feel that if I can get Mike in the field, maybe he can get locked in," Washington said. "All he's been doing so far in the playoffs is DHing."

With Doug Fister set to start for them in Game 3, the Tigers face an uphill climb if they want to see Arlington again. Right now, they need at least one win to get the ball to 24-game winner Justin Verlander for a potential Game 5.

"It's been a great two games," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "It didn't go the right way, obviously. They earned it, and we didn't quite get it done. We haven't been able to come up with any big hits. That's really hard."

Mission one is breaking through against Texas' high-octane bullpen. Rangers relievers combined for 8 1/3 innings of four-hit relief in Game 2, giving them 12 2/3 scoreless frames in the series.

"They've got a great staff over there," Detroit's Ryan Raburn said. "Putting [Alexi] Ogando in the bullpen, and then [Neftali] Feliz, [Mike] Adams -- they've just got great arms over there. Somehow, we've got to find ways to get them, no matter what."

Since the advent of the best-of-seven LCS in 1985, 21 teams have taken a 2-0 lead in the LCS. Eighteen have advanced to the World Series; the Tigers will be trying to lump the 2011 Rangers in with the '85 Blue Jays, the '85 Dodgers and the '04 Yankees.

But as the ALCS moves some 1,200 miles north and east, the Rangers would love to wrap up the ALCS in Detroit and make their next home game a World Series contest.

"Definitely, we'll try to finish [the series in Detroit]," Nelson Cruz said. "I know it's not going to be easy, because they have a great team, but we've got to keep playing like the way we're playing and I think we're going to be fine."

Lewis was somewhere high above America when the first pitch of Game 2 was tossed, with the Rangers wanting to get him safe and sound to Detroit just in case there was a long game on tap.

Lewis has had trouble against Detroit this year, having been knocked around for 14 runs (13 earned) on 20 hits in a combined 7 1/3 innings. But the playoffs are his time; the right-hander pitched six sharp innings in Game 3 of the AL Division Series to beat the Rays this year and was a postseason stud in 2010. He now owns a 4-0 record and 1.67 ERA in five career starts.

"Once you get your feet wet, you get more comfortable," Lewis said. "That's all there is to it. It's the comfortability aspect of things. The more you do it, the more you go out there, the more you understand what it takes to perform and be on that stage."

Fister saw one of Lewis' better outings this year up close; they locked up in a July 15 meeting at Safeco Field in Seattle, just before Fister traded in his Mariners uniform for a Tigers model.

The lanky righty pitched the Tigers to the ALCS with a victory over the Yankees in Game 5 of the ALDS on Thursday and has gone 9-2 with a 2.25 ERA for the Tigers in 13 starts since his July 30 acquisition.

Leyland said that he knew Fister was a good pitcher but said he would "be lying if I said we thought he would be this good." So far, Fister has thought the same about his Detroit experience.

"Obviously, there's a huge fan base in Detroit, which is terrific to play in front of," Fister said. "It's been very prevalent, especially in the postseason. We sit back, we watch everybody standing on their feet waving the white towels. It's something that gives you chills to be a part of."

MLB.com Comments