By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Bullpens are always vital. In the postseason, they become more so. And on nights in which there are two rain delays in the same half-inning, they become downright essential.
When the starting pitchers in Game 1 of the ALCS -- Justin Verlander for the Detroit Tigers; C.J. Wilson for the Texas Rangers -- were knocked out by the nearly two hours it took for the rain to stop, the Rangers led 3-2.
Hours later, the score was the same, and for that, the Rangers can thank their seemingly endless cast of relievers.
Five Texas relievers combined to blank the Tigers the rest of the way, giving the Rangers a Game 1 victory and a 1-0 lead in the ALCS.
"Some nights things fall into place for you,'' concluded manager Ron Washington, ''and some nights they don't. Tonight they fell into place for us.''
A steady parade of pitchers all did their job. Mike Gonzalez came on to get Alex Avila with the bases loaded and two out after the second rain delay.
Alexi Ogando pitched two hitless innings to get the Rangers through the seventh. Darren Oliver and Mike Adams worked the eighth as a tag team and closer Neftali Felix nailed down the ninth.
It was the third straight one-run win for the Rangers in this postseason, more evidence -- as if any were needed -- of the importance of a strong bullpen.
Texas already had a deep group of relievers when general manager Jon Daniels traded for Adams at the July 31 deadline. A month to the day later, he landed Gonzalez from the Baltimore Orioles.
And if that wasn't enough, the Rangers had the luxury of moving Ogando back into the bullpen at the start of the postseason, where, in shorter stretches, his stuff seems to play better.
"He's a great piece to have down there,'' said Washington, "especially when you got hom where he can give you multiple innings. There's times when I have to use him for one; tonight I needed him for two. And he gave it to me.''
How dominant were the Rangers relievers in Game 1? The lone hit allowed in 4 13 innings came when Ramon Santiago pushed a bunt past the mound to open the ninth.
Otherwise, the Tigers got exactly one ball into the outfield -- a soft line drive to center by Don Kelly to lead off the eighth.
Meanwhile, in a show of power, eight of the last 10 outs in the game were by stirkeout, all but one swinging.
"This is probably one of the best bullpens that I've seen,'' said Texas catcher Mike Napoli, who was on some very good Angels teams which featured similarly deep bullpens. "There are a lot of guys who can come in and get it done. That's a huge plus for us. It's a good things for us.
"It's good for Wash that he can go to anybody, anytime. We try to get good matchups and we've been able to do that. Tonight, our guys came in and got the job done.''
Losing their No. 1 starter before he could get through the fifth could have been disastrous for the Rangers. But the number of weapons in the bullpen enabled them to thrive.
On a night when the rain made "shortening the game,'' difficult, the Rangers had a variety of answers.