Providing spark, Miggy turns boos into cheers
Veteran goes 2-for-4, picks up two RBIs to pace Tigers' offense
DETROIT -- After a soft groundout to the pitcher in the third inning on Tuesday, some boos came down on Miguel Cabrera at Comerica Park -- something not heard often in his four years in Detroit.
The Tigers' offense had struggled through the first two games of the American League Championship Series, and with injuries ravaging the team, there was more pressure on Cabrera to come through from fans.
But an RBI double in the fifth and a solo home run in the seventh brought back the cheers for Cabrera and the Tigers in Tuesday night's 5-2 win.
"That's what this is about. The big boys that's why they're the big boys," manager Jim Leyland said.
Midway through Tuesday's game, Cabrera was 2-for-10 with two walks in the ALCS. Include the final three games of the ALDS against the Yankees, and Cabrera was in a 2-for-18 stretch. But he was getting good swings. A couple balls hit in Texas stayed in the ballpark in October when they would have been home runs in July.
|Greg Luzinski||13||1976 ALCS Game 1 - 1980 ALCS Game 1|
|Roberto Alomar||11||1991 ALCS Game 1 - 1992 ALCS Game 6|
|Miguel Cabrera||10||2003 NLCS Game 1 - Present|
|Orlando Cabrera||10||2004 ALCS Game 1 - 2005 ALCS Game 3|
|Mark Grace||10||1989 ALCS Game 2 - 2001 NLCS Game 5|
|Todd Zeile||10||1996 NLCS Game 1 - 2000 NLCS Game 5|
|Ryne Sandberg||10||1984 NLCS Game 1 - 1989 NLCS Game 5|
|Ozzie Smith||10||1982 NLCS Game 1 - 1987 NLCS Game 1|
"You're not always going to have hits," he said. "You try and you battle. I got a lot of at-bats at 3-2 and 2-2, so that means I was battling, not giving away anything."
Cabrera only took two called strikes Tuesday night, while fouling off five pitches. He finished the day 2-for-4 and had two-strike counts in all four at-bats.
His first big hit came in the fifth with runners on the corners and two outs. The Tigers were 2-for-21 with runners in scoring position in the ALCS up to that point. Cabrera hit a fastball off the plate and sent it down the right-field line. It stayed fair by inches, and the Tigers had broken through and taken their first lead of the game. A lead they would not give up.
Cabrera, who has now hit safely in each of his 10 career LCS games, reached second and put his finger up to his mouth. The boos had been quieted, replaced by cheers.
With an injured Victor Martinez behind him, it was unclear if Cabrera would see quality pitches to hit. Cabrera was hitting .253 in the postseason entering Tuesday, but he had a .340 on-base percentage thanks to 11 walks. The Rangers went after him, and he made them pay.
"I was not thinking about [getting walked]," Cabrera said. "I was thinking, 'Get some good pitches to hit,' and thank God we found a way to score and we won this game."
There were more cheers when he sent an inside splitter 398 feet into the left-field stands.
"When you bring support to the team and drive in some runs, you feel good about that," Cabrera said.
With Magglio Ordonez, Delmon Young and Brennan Boesch unable to contribute and a hobbled Martinez behind him, the AL batting champ said he didn't try to put the team on his back.
"I don't want to think about that," Cabrera said. "I don't want to put that in my mind, because I don't want to put extra pressure on myself. I want to go out there and do my job. Do the little things and I think we can win games.
"I don't need hits in a row. I don't need hits with men in scoring position. I'm OK with that. More important is win games right here. It's not about one player. It's about winning games, and finally we won the first game here."
Cabrera came though in a big way for the Tigers, who fought their way back into the series. Martinez says he will play Wednesday, which is good news for Cabrera, who has feasted on the protection of having Martinez behind him this season.
"That means the guys want to win," Cabrera said of Martinez. "That means the guys never give up. That shows you can play hurt and you've got to be positive. When you see a player like that, they motivate you to go out there and do your job and do a lot of things you can do."
Chris Vannini is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.