"Top to bottom, I'll take the Rangers over anyone," he said. "And that includes the Phillies."
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The Rangers? They're halfway home to a second straight World Series appearance after Nelson Cruz's grand slam in the bottom of the 11th gave them a 7-3 victory over the Tigers Monday nightin ALCS Game 2. It was the first walk-off grand slam in postseason history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. "It was one heck of a ballgame," Rangers manager Ron Washington said.
Game 3 of the best-of-seven series, which the Rangers lead two games to none, is scheduled for Tuesday night in Detroit.
After blowing a bases-loaded, none-out scoring chance in the ninth against closer Jose Valverde, the Rangers won it when Cruz -- who had tied the score at 3 with a solo homer off the leftfield foul pole in the seventh -- launched Ryan Perry's 1-and-2 pitch into the seats in left, setting off a Texas-sized celebration.
Just before Cruz's shot, Tigers rightfielder Andy Dirks misplayed Mike Napoli's short fly to right-center, with the ball going off Dirks' glove to load the bases. If the ball hadn't hit centerfielder Austin Jackson, the game would have ended right there.
Cruz entered the ALCS 1-for-15 but broke an 0-for-10 skid with a Game 1 homer before going 3-for-4 with five RBIs in Game 2. "It was amazing," said Cruz, who hit a two-run homer off the Yankees' David Robertson in Game 6 of the 2010 ALCS. "First two pitches, I was too aggressive. I hit the ball -- foul ball, foul ball. After that, I told myself, just slow down and try to hit a fly ball to the outfield."
The 4-hour, 25-minute game included plenty of missed opportunities by both teams, second-guesses of both managers, a controversial third-inning call by the umpires -- which became a moot point after Ryan Raburn's three-run homer gave the Tigers a 3-2 lead -- and, finally, one sweet stroke by Cruz, who was hit on the right wrist by Valverde in the ninth.
Meanwhile, Texas showed the depth that scouts and personnel men have lauded all season. How deep? Deep enough to survive its starter lasting only 22/3 innings. Derek Holland displayed little command before being yanked in favor of Scott Feldman, who allowed one hit and struck out four in 41/3 innings.
Alexi Ogando, Michael Gonzalez, Neftali Feliz and Mike Adams held the Tigers, who left 13 on base and went 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position, scoreless from there. In Game 1, five Rangers relievers allowed one hit in 41/3 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."
The Tigers have left 21 runners on base and are 2-for-19 with runners in scoring position in the first two games.
Detroit lost Magglio Ordoñez to a broken ankle before Game 2 and replaced him on the roster with Delmon Young, who had been left off the ALCS roster because of an oblique strain. Young, who hit three homers against the Yankees in the ALDS, did not look comfortable in the field and went 0-for-4.
"I don't feel as good as Texas does right now, obviously, but we're playing," Leyland said. "They've got to win two more, we have to win four. It's that simple."