McAdam at the ALCS: Tigers painfully stay alive

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McAdam at the ALCS: Tigers painfully stay alive

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

DETROIT -- Pity the poor Detroit Tigers. They're trying to beat two opponents at once.

First, the Texas Rangers, whom they defeated 5-2 in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series Tuesday night thanks to three leadoff homers, nominally making the ALCS a series again -- "nominally" because as tough as the Rangers have been, the Tigers aren't faring well against their other opponent: Time.

The race is on to determine if the Tigers can win the pennant and get to the finish line before their entire team is decimated by injuries.

Problems started in Game 5 of the Division Series when Delmon Young had to come out of the game with a pulled oblique muscle. Thanks to that pull, Young wasn't on the original ALCS roster submitted by the Tigers.

Manager Jim Leyland noted that oblique pulls frequently take weeks to fully heal.

But that was before Magglio Ordonez broke his ankle in Game 1 of the Division Series. Then, all of a sudden, an oblique didn't seem that serious. Young was activated and in the lineup for Game 2, in left field.

He left that game, however, and hasn't been back on the field since.

Then came Game 3, when, even when the Tigers were winning, they were losing.

Former Red Sox catcher Victor Martinez opened the fourth by launching a missile into the right field seats, pulling the Tigers even at 1-1.

But almost immediately, it was obvious that something wasn't right. Martinez took forever to get himself around the bases, a pace made even more curious by the fact that Martinez might be the very last hitter in the big leagues to style a home-run trot.

It soon became obvious that Martinez wasn't just taking in the scene, but rather, had suffered a pulled right intercostal muscle with his home-run swing.

As he walked gingerly from the plate to the dugout, he slammed his helmet in frustration, then quickly disappeared up the tunnel to the clubhouse, followed in short order by the Tigers' trainer.

"He's OK," shrugged Jim Leyland of Martinez. "He felt a little strain, but he's all right."

In the Tigers clubhouse, Martinez himself wasn't so sure. He described the feeling as "a sharp pain . . . real uncomfortable."

"I'm pretty sore," said Martinez. "I got some treatment and was able to finish the game. We'll see how it feels Wednesday."

(Ever mindful of playing the game the right way, Martinez asked Rangers catcher Yorvit Torrealba to explain to Texas starter Colby Lewis that the ultra-slow home run trot was born out of necessity and not a chance to show up the opposition).

Asked if he could have played the field -- at first or behind the plate -- after the incident, Martinez allowed himself a smile: "I don't know, but it's a good thing I'm a DH."

Reminded of the litany of injuries that the Tigers already face with Young and Ordonez, Martinez interjected: "We don't need another one, believe me. We don't need anyone hurt. This kind of opportunity to get to the World Series doesn't get to you very often. I will do anything I can to go out there and play."

The Rangers did Martinez and the Tigers a favor in the next inning when Martinez came to the plate with two out and runners at the corners and, facing a guy who could barely lift a bat -- much less swing one -- promptly walked him on five pitches.

In the seventh, Martinez was able to put a decent swing on a pitch and flied to center.

Wednesday and Game 4? Who knows.

"As of right now, I'm playing tomorrow," said Martinez with determination.

"Ah, we're limping a little bit right now," said teammate Al Avila. "You want to be limping; you don't want to be completely on crutches."

Since the Tigers had to summon Young -- unsuccessfully, it would now seem -- to replace Ordonez, it seems likely they don't have a backup for Martinez, either.

"We're tough," concluded Leyland.

Not that, at the moment, they have a choice.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Three-run HR from Sandoval (.353) leads Red Sox split squad past Rays, 7-5

Three-run HR from Sandoval (.353) leads Red Sox split squad past Rays, 7-5

Pablo Sandoval hit his fourth home run of the spring and Rusney Castillo had three hits to lead a Red Sox split squad to a 7-5 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday in Port Charlotte, Fla. 

Sandoval, who has won back his third base job after missing nearly all of last season following surgery on his left shoulder, connected for a three-run shot, batting right-handed, against Rays starter Ian Snell in the fifth inning. The switch-hitting Sandoval had abandoned hitting right-handed in 2015, his last full season with the Red Sox.

He's hitting .353 this spring with a 1.051 OPS and 19 RBI.

Castillo, the Cuban outfielder signed to a seven-year, $72 million deal late in 2014 but again likely headed for Triple-A Pawtucket, went 3-for-4 and is hitting .368 this spring. Catcher Blake Swihart, also probably Pawtucket-bound, had two hits and is hitting .325.


 

Another strong start for Kendrick in Red Sox split squad's 3-3 tie with Phillies

Another strong start for Kendrick in Red Sox split squad's 3-3 tie with Phillies

Kyle Kendrick strengthened his bid for a spot in the rotation by allowing two runs in six innings and striking out six and Jackie Bradley homered as a Red Sox split squad played to a 3-3 tie with the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday in Fort Myers, Fla.

Kendrick, 32, a non-roster invitee to spring training, allowed eight hits and a walk in his sixth start this spring. He's been the Red Sox best starter with an ERA of 2.17. 

With David Price out until May and lefty Drew Pomeranz still a question mark, Kendrick could find his way into the rotation behind Chris Sale, Rick Porcello, Steven Wright and Eduardo Rodriguez.

Bradley went 2-for-3 with his third homer of the spring. He's hitting .244 in spring training games. 

The Phillies pushed across the tying run in the ninth off lefty reliever Robby Scott, the first run he's allowed this spring in 10 innings. 

The Minnesota Twins host the Red Sox on Sunday at 1:05 at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers.