Tigers right fielder Magglio Ordonez warms up during batting practice… (Mike Stone / Reuters )
Reporting from Arlington, Texas -- The prognosis for the Detroit Tigers looks much like the weather that washed out Game 2 of the American League Championship Series some four hours before the scheduled first pitch Sunday: gloomy, overcast, with showers likely.
Detroit's World Series hopes, which dimmed with the loss of No. 3 hitter Delmon Young to a rib-cage injury before the ALCS, took another big hit Sunday when No. 5 hitter Magglio Ordonez was ruled out for the series and the season because of a fractured right ankle.
That only brightened an already rosy outlook for the Rangers, their forecast calling for sunshine with a good chance of reign.
Texas reached the World Series for the first time in franchise history last season, and its path to a second straight AL pennant appeared to get easier with news of Ordonez's injury.
When the Tigers and Rangers resume play Monday, Texas will have the upper hand in the best-of-seven series, the result of its 3-2, rain-marred Game 1 victory Saturday night, and Detroit will be without two middle-of-the-order sluggers, and with its best pitcher already having been beaten.
Ace Justin Verlander, who was 24-5 with a 2.40 earned-run average and 250 strikeouts this season, struggled in Game 1, giving up three runs and five hits, including Nelson Cruz's solo homer, in four innings.
Verlander threw 82 pitches and did not return after downpours in the fifth inning forced two rain delays totaling 1 hour 50 minutes.
Tigers Manager Jim Leyland said he will not alter his rotation because of Sunday's rainout, which means Verlander wouldn't pitch again until Game 5, if there is one, on Thursday.
The Rangers, who received 41/3 scoreless, one-hit innings from their five-headed bullpen monster in Game 1, will have right-hander Alexi Ogando available in relief for Game 2.
Ogando, who may have the best pure stuff on the Texas staff, threw two hitless relief innings with three strikeouts and was credited with the win Saturday night. If Game 2 had been played Sunday, Manager Ron Washington said Ogando would not have been available.
With Sunday's rainout and Game 2 pushed to Monday's scheduled off day, Ogando will be in the bullpen, rested and ready.
Leyland was too busy whistling past the graveyard to worry about all of his club's bad breaks.
"We're in the playoffs, we're playing the Texas Rangers for the championship — I love it," Leyland proclaimed during his media session. "It's exciting. It's a great opportunity for us to show how tough we are, and we're tough. Nobody is going to feel sorry for us. I don't want anybody feeling sorry for us. We'll make do."
For the Tigers, that will probably mean starting the left-handed-hitting Don Kelly in right field against Rangers left-hander Derek Holland on Monday.
Kelly hit a key home run in the decisive Game 5 division series win over the New York Yankees, but he's a .185 hitter with one home run and 13 RBIs in 54 career at-bats against lefties.
Brennan Boesch, a former Studio City Harvard-Westlake High standout who hit .283 with 16 homers and 54 RBIs this season, would have been a nice option, but he is out for the year after undergoing right thumb surgery in August.
Boesch filled in admirably this season for Ordonez, the 37-year-old veteran who was limited to 92 games because of his ankle, an injury that dates to last year, when he underwent surgery on it. Ordonez hit .255 with five homers and 32 RBIs in 2011, but he got hot in September, batting .365 over his final 21 games.
The Tigers characterized Ordonez's injury as a "re-fracture" of the ankle. He reportedly aggravated the injury before Saturday night's game. He started, grounding into a double play, striking out and making a long run to the gap for David Murphy's run-scoring triple in the second. He was pulled for a pinch-runner after being intentionally walked in the fifth.
"My trainer came in during the rain delay and said Magglio can't go, the ankle is killing him," Leyland said. "I was flabbergasted, to be honest with you. Magglio had just been talking three or four days ago about how he felt as good as he's felt for a long time."
The Tigers can replace Ordonez on the roster with anyone from their organization, but it appears doubtful they will activate Young. They will have to face a Rangers rotation that features three tough lefties without two of their top right-handed hitters.
"We're a real resilient team," Leyland said. "Do I like this? No. But we'll figure something out, and we'll get through this."