Friday, October 14, 2011

2nd Round, Games 1 & 2, Detroit Tigers vs Rangers

2011 American League Championship Series: Detroit Tigers vs Texas Rangers

After the Detroit Tigers defeated the EVIL EMPIRE (ny yanks), they opened game 1 of the American League Championship (4 out of 7 series with the 1st two in Texas and the next three in Detroit) against the Texas Rangers in Arlington on Saturday, October 8.

Thanks to the generosity of Bill and Bob Utter (Ford dealers in Denton and Sherman, and 40-year friends), Jeannie and I received tickets to Game 1.

Plus, we had superior tailgating thanks to Carl Anderson, Bill Utter Ford General Manager.

For the opening ceremonies, the gigantic flag unfurlers practice north of the Ranger Ball Park.
We made it in time for the first game opening ceremonies when all of the players are introduced and they line up on the first and third base lines.
The Flag Ceremony for the Star Spangled Banner

Honorary Throwing Out of the First Pitch by Ranger Announcers

Actual First Pitch by C.J. Wilson

And the Series is underway.

The Rangers get 2 runs in the 2nd inning and another in the 4th (home run by Nelson Cruz -- one of many to follow)

Then the rain came in the top of the 5th (Tiger Ramon Santiago had just hit a double), and the tarp was put on the infield.

Thirty minutes later about 10 p.m., the rain lulls, and the tarp is taken off the field.

The game restarted at 10:30.  After a Tiger hit, a couple of walks and a wild pitch, the Tigers scored two and had the based loaded.  Then the rain came again, and the tarp was put back on the field.

Jeannie and I decided to go home -- combination of my old age, Jeannie having to get up at 5 a.m. the next morning, and the likelihood that the game would be postponed with no more baseball that night.

However, after another hour or so, the game restarted about 11:45 in the top of the 5th inning with two outs and Tigers at every base.  Fortunatley, Tiger Alex Avila grounded out.  Thanks to the great Ranger relief pitchers, no more runs were scored, and the Rangers took Game 1 3-2.

We got home in time to watch the whole thing (this picture is from the WS-Cubs game, but it captures the joy).

The second game of the series was supposed to be played on Sunday evening, October 9, but in the afternoon, it was postponed due to the threat of rain to Monday afternoon.

Due to this postponement, Bill Utter's wonderful daughter Bailee decided not to go to game 2 in order to finish a 5th grade school project, and Bill gave her ticket to me.  Here is Bailee (also a flower girl in Nicole's wedding) with Mark Cuban and brother Trey in NYC in June.
 Bill and I tailgating before game 2 (courtesy of Carl Anderson again)

The camera battery went dead, so above is the only picture from game 2.

However, the Rangers scored 2 in the first inning, but Tigers' outfielder Ryan Rayburn hit a 3-run homerun in the 3rd inning to put the Tigers up 3-2.  In the 7th, Nelson Cruz hit a homerun to tie the game 3-3.  Here is my pic of Nelson Cruz a few days later in Detroit at game 4.

Game 2 stayed tied until the bottom of the 11th inning.  The Rangers loaded the bases with no outs (Rangers had done this in the 9th too, but failed to score).  This time though, Nelson Cruz was coming to bat.  He hit a Grand Slam Home Run, and the Rangers won game two 7-3.

Here are some internet pictures of  Nelson Cruz's Ranger teammates greeting Nelson as he approached home plate after the grand slam.
An interesting sidenote:  Game 2 started at 3:30, but I was to tutor Lars (Algebra 2 student at Shepton HS and QB1 for the JV football team) at 9 p.m. at his home in Plano.  Lars (below) got tickets for Jeannie and me and went with us to a June Yankee-Ranger game at Yankee Stadium.
When game 2 was tied after 9, and who knew when it would be over, I called Jeannie (about 7:30) to see if she would come and get me so I could get to Lars' house by 9.  Jeannie had just driven 400 miles from West Texas, but she got into her Bill Utter Ford Focus to come for me.  When she was near Six Flags, Nelson Cruz hit the game-ending grand slam home run, but the traffic from the stadium would be too heavy for Jeannie to find me and get back on the road easily.  So, Jeannie turned around and went home, and I rode home with Bill with his wife Monica driving.  With manuevers not even mastered by Danica Patrick, Monica got me to my car in Lewisville in time for me to make it to Lars house at 9:05.   

The next night, Tuesday, October 11, the Tigers and Rangers would play game 3 in Detroit, and I would be there.

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