Tyler Collins' 3-run HR powers Tigers to win
Arlington, Texas — It was like old home week for Tyler Collins, who is from the Dallas area, and Neftali Feliz, who pitched here for seven seasons.
Both put on a show Monday night.
Collins followed up his three-hit game against the Twins Sunday with a three-run home run that sent the Tigers on their way to a 7-4 win over the AL West-leading Rangers.
And Feliz, well, all he did was enter the game with the bases loaded and one out in the ninth and get the dangerous Adrian Beltre to hit into a game-ending double play.
"I feel really good right now," said Feliz, who picked up his 10th save with the Tigers. "I know this field, I play here a long time. I just try to keep it calm, attack the hitter early and finish the game."
No extra emotion?
"No, I feel the same, same emotion every time I come in to save a game."
Collins had a hard time hiding his emotion.
"You could tell where my people were," he said. "They were the only group standing and cheering a home run by a visiting player."
It was Collins' fourth home run this season and he continues to stake his claim on one of the outfield spots for next season.
"I am doing my best," he said. "I wouldn't say I am any more or less confident, but I'd say I feel good at the plate. I am seeing the ball well."
Collins' homer was part of a five-run fifth inning against Rangers starter Colby Lewis. James McCann also delivered a two-out, two-run single in the inning. And that outburst came right after Tigers starter Justin Verlander powered his way out of a bases loaded, no-out jam in the bottom of the fourth.
"The way Verlander competes is unlike anybody else," Collins said. "When he goes out there and gives it all he's got in the fourth inning, you want to do everything you can. He set the tone right there and the offense did what it's capable of doing."
The bottom of the fourth was a 29-pitch fistfight for Verlander. The first pitch was hit over the wall in right field by Prince Fielder, his 23rd homer of the season. The second pitch was smacked up the middle for single by Beltre.
A single by Mitch Moreland through the Tigers' shift and a walk to Josh Hamilton loaded the bases.
"I was trying to make pitches to get Moreland to hit it on the ground to that side, knowing we were shifting him," Verlander said. "I thought anything hit to that side would be a double play. I got the ground ball to that side and it found a hole. Yeah, that was frustrating."
After a visit from pitching coach Jeff Jones, Verlander got Elvis Andrus to pop out to short right field. Second baseman Andrew Romine caught it running backwards and took a bump from right fielder J.D. Martinez.
Verlander then punched out Rougned Odor on three fastballs — 94, 95, 95. He ended the inning striking out Chris Gimenez on a well-placed 3-2 fastball down and away.
"When he felt the game was on the line, he was able to turn it up," manager Brad Ausmus said.
But the inning took a toll. He wound up going only six innings.
"I really had to expend some energy and some pitches in that one inning," said Verlander, now 5-8 on the season. "I wanted to get out of it and keep us in the game. That was the turning point in the game."
Verlander allowed the one run and six hits, throwing 107 pitches. His last start of the season will be Saturday in Chicago.
"It's been nice," Verlander said of his strong finish to the season. "I'm just going out to pitch well and give the organization, the fans and myself something to look forward to next year — and to give us a chance to win.
"We're not playing for a lot now but pride."
With the Rangers deploying a lineup with five left-handed hitters, Ausmus used three straight left-handers.
Blaine Hardy allowed a run in the seventh
Tom Gorzelanny pitched a clean eighth inning.
Then came trouble. Ian Krol, after retiring the leadoff batter in the bottom of the ninth, loaded the bases on a double and two walks.
In came Feliz, who saved 93 games for the Rangers in his career. Fielder was the first batter he faced and the two squared off in an 11-pitch at-bat. Fielder, who knocked in four runs in the game, won it, knocking a two-run single to right-center.
"I was like, 'Good at-bat,'" Feliz said. "I threw everything I have to him and he got a base hit. I just try to keep my focus on Beltre. I try to make a pitch and get the double play. That's what I did."
The win moves the Tigers into a tie with the White Sox for fourth place in the AL Central.
"That's not how you want the ninth inning to go," Ausmus said. "I could feel more gray hairs pop up on my head."