Game of inches does Rangers in

KEN FIDLIN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:54 PM ET

DETROIT - It’s a game of inches.

The cliche is old and tired, but what can you do? It describes baseball perfectly.

We take you to the top of the fifth inning of ALCS Game 5, score tied 2-2 with two outs. Texas third baseman Adrian Beltre is at the plate with two runners on base and Justin Verlander is struggling to get out of the inning.

Beltre fouled off a pitch, then Verlander delivered again. The scoreboard said 102 — as in miles per hour. Beltre connected and drilled a shot down the right field line.

Verlander’s heart sank. He knew it had the distance. But would it stay fair?

“It was plenty fair, but it was slicing,” said Verlander later. “Then it sliced just foul. I looked up and saw it was 102 and I said ‘Thank God it wasn’t 101 or it would be a home run.’ ”

A moment later, Beltre flied out and the threat ended.

Now it’s the bottom of the sixth and the score is still tied. Ryan Raburn has led off with a single against C.J. Wilson. Miguel Cabrera, the most dangerous hitter on either team, is at the plate. He fouled off a pitch, then looked at a ball.

The next pitch was grounded down the third base line. Beltre, the third baseman, is positioned perfectly.

Texas manager Ron Washington shouted “Double play” to nobody in particular and his heart skipped a beat.

Then the ball hit the front of the bag, bounded high in the air over Beltre’s head and rolled along its merry way into the outfield. Raburn scored all the way from first. Cabrera then doubled. A moment later Victor Martinez tripled and a moment after that, Delmon Young hit his second home run of the game as the Tigers opened up a four-run lead.

“We miss a home run by inches and then they open the game up by inches,” marvelled Washington. “We got a groundball double play that hits the bag and from that point on it’s boom, bam.

“So that’s the way it was. They caught a break. That happens in the game of baseball. What a game.”

Yes, what a game. A game of inches.


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