Texas Rangers scored four runs in the decisive 11th inning to beat the Detroit Tigers 7-3 in game four of their MLB semi final playoff series with Nelson Cruz the star of the show.
The result has put Rangers on the bring of making the World Series for the second year in a row as they now hold a 3-1 lead meaning victory in any of their next three matches in the American League championship series will ensure they make the final.
The Rangers, who fell to San Francisco last year in US baseball’s championship showcase, will try to finish off the Tigers in game five on Thursday.
Cruz was at the forefront of the action, with his laser throw to Rangers catcher Mike Napoli at home plate in the eighth inning prevented Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera from scoring from third base, preserving a 3-3 tie that eventually sent the contest to extra innings.
In the top of the 11th inning, Napoli hit a go-ahead single and Cruz then sealed it with a three-run home run — his fourth homer of the series — to stretch the Rangers’ lead to 7-3.
Cruz, whose 11th inning grand slam secured the victory in game two, became the first player in playoff history to hit two extra-inning homers in the same series.
But Rangers manager Ron Washington wasn’t surprised to see him come through on defense as well.
“For you guys that haven’t seen Nelson every day, he’s capable of doing exactly what he’s doing,” Washington said. “As I always say, I don’t judge Nelson just because he hits balls out of the ballpark.
“He’s a complete player. He takes pride in every part of the game.”
Detroit’s Brandon Inge belted a solo home run in the seventh to knot the score at 3-3.
In the eighth, with one out and nobody on, the Rangers intentionally walked Cabrera, the American League batting champion who had driven in two runs with a double in the third inning.
Victor Martinez followed with a single and Cabrera reached third.
Delmon Young then lofted a ball to right field that Cruz caught and fired to Napoli, who held on to the ball as Cabrera crashed into him and got the out.
“We throw to the bases every day,” Cruz said. “We take flyballs every day, make sure we know the ballpark, we know any situation we can be involved in during the game. When you prepare, everything comes more easy.”