The Texas Rangers aren't happy with a 1-0 lead in the ALCS, even if they just beat one of the hottest pitchers in baseball.
After disposing of Cy Young lock Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers 3-2 in a rain-interrupted first game of the ALCS, the Rangers are sending Derek Holland to the mound who already has an ALDS win under his belt in 2011, giving up just one run in five innings pitched in game 2 against the Tampa Rays.
Holland is coming off a great season, where he lead the American league in shutouts with four. He's has never pitched against the Tigers, who's potent lineup has posed a problem for pitchers all season.
In contrast, the Tigers are sending Max Scherzer to the mound to try and even the series at 1 game a piece. While Holland has no history against the Tigers, Scherzer has a record of 3-0 against the Rangers in six starts with a tidy 3.41 ERA against Texas.
Rick Porcello was originally going to start game two, but he put in some relief work on Saturday and Max talked Tigers manager Jim Leyland into letting him start after Max Scherzer tossed a few balls to see how his arm felt (he also pitched some relief) and it felt fine. Scherzer let Leyland know that he could go and Porcello was pulled and Max was slotted in.
"So I jumped the gun a little bit in giving the rotation," Leyland said. "I apologize for that."
What will remain to be seen is how Scherzer responds to the pressure of a much-needed win for the Tigers. It's not yet must-win terrotory, but if the Tigers go down 2-0, they will definitely be behind the eight ball. Scherzer pitched six strong innings in game 2 of the ALDS against the Yankees, giving up no runs and striking out five.
If he can do that again, the Tigers will be in a great position to even the series. But shutting down a Yankees offense that had been inconsistent in the playoffs will be much different than keeping the powerful Rangers lineup off the board. The Rangers, who are stacked at every position can seemingly score at will when they get hot.
Will Scherzer handle the pressure against a stacked lineup on the road? He'll have to step up his game and continue his strong postseason play.