Nelson Cruz’s 11th-inning grand slam sent the Texas Rangers to Detroit with a 2-0 lead over the Tigers in the American League Championship Series, while Albert Pujols drove in five runs as the St. Louis Cardinals headed home even in the National League series after a win at Milwaukee.
Pujols had a home run and three doubles, and the Cardinals beat the Brewers 12-3 to tie their best-of-seven series at a game apiece.
At Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas, Cruz hit the first game-ending grand slam in postseason history for a 7-3 win.
“First two pitches, I was too aggressive,” Cruz said in a news conference. “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 the fourth grand slam of this year’s playoffs, joining Robinson Cano of the New York Yankees and Arizona Diamondbacks teammates Ryan Roberts and Paul Goldschmidt.
In 1999, Robin Ventura ended a New York Mets playoff win against the Atlanta Braves with a bases-loaded shot over the outfield fence. He was swarmed by teammates between first and second base, however, and never reached home plate, so did not officially get credit for a home run or a grand slam. His 15th-inning hit, which gave the Mets a 4-3 win, went down in baseball’s history books as a run-scoring single.
Cruz, who hit a leadoff home run in the seventh inning to tie the game 3-3, ended the contest with no outs in the 11th off Ryan Perry, who came in to start the inning and gave up three singles before Cruz’s homer.
First Texas Walkoff
Mike Adams, the sixth Texas pitcher, went one inning for the win -- the first walkoff victory in postseason history for the Rangers, who have hosted 16 home games in the playoffs or World Series.
“The fans got me excited,” Cruz said in a televised interview. “We battled the whole game. The bullpen did a really good job. My teammates never gave up.”
Ryan Raburn accounted for all of Detroit’s runs with a three-run homer off Texas starter Derek Holland in the third inning. Five Texas relievers held the Tigers scoreless for 8 1/3 innings.
Texas took the lead in the first inning on run-scoring doubles by Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre off Detroit starter Max Scherzer, who allowed three runs on six hits and struck out six in six innings.
The Major League Baseball series moves tonight to Detroit’s Comerica Park for the first of as many as three games and will return to Texas if necessary for Games 6 and 7 on Oct. 15 and 16.
‘They Earned It’
“It’s been a great two games. It didn’t go the right way, obviously,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said in a news conference. “They earned it and we didn’t quite get it done. We haven’t been able to come up with any big hits. We’ve had some opportunities, but up to this point we just haven’t been able to do that.”
The winner moves on to the World Series against the Brewers or the Cardinals, who had 17 hits last night in their win at Miller Park. David Freese also hit a home run for the Cardinals and Nick Punto had a pair of run-scoring singles.
Every starter in the St. Louis lineup, except leadoff hitter Rafael Furcal, had at least one hit. Starting pitcher Edwin Jackson went 1-for-1 and scored a run.
Pujols hit a two-run homer in the first, a two-run double in the third, a run-scoring double in the fifth and a double in the seventh. He scored three runs.
“You can’t make mistakes to him,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said of Pujols. “You have to hit spots. You have to keep it down in the zone. He doesn’t miss too many mistakes.”