DETROIT -- The Tigers moved into a first-place tie with the White Sox in the American League Central on Tuesday night with a 2-0 win over the Royals. It was on a rare night when third baseman Miguel Cabrera didn't make an impact at the plate.
For only the fourth time in 22 September games, Cabrera went hitless in the victory at Comerica Park. It marked his first 0-for-3 game since Sept. 9, snapping his career high 14-game hitting streak.
With Cabrera going 2-for-11 (.182) over his last three games, manager Jim Leyland was actually asked if he was worried about what he's seen.
"What I see is that he's a human being," Leyland said. "You don't do it all the time, every time. It just goes to show you how hard this game is and that you don't do it every time. That's why I always emphasize, ever since I've been here, team. It's about team."
Cabrera's team certainly had his back on Tuesday, while he made a key defensive play in the fourth inning -- snaring a liner by Salvador Perez with two on that likely saved a pair of runs and preserved Detroit's early lead. A postseason berth would likely squander any debate over whether he or Angels outfielder Mike Trout deserves to win the AL's Most Valuable Player Award.
Despite the hitless night, the Tigers' slugger continues to make his push for the first Triple Crown in 45 years. He entered the night pacing the league in batting average and RBIs, but trailing Texas' Josh Hamilton by one home run.
Hamilton did not go deep against the A's and remained at 43 homers. But the Rangers outfielder was not the biggest threat on the night. It was Minnesota's Joe Mauer, who is proving to be a serious contender for the batting title.
Mauer went 3-for-4 as the Twins defeated the Yankees at Target Field, improving his season average to .326 while Cabrera's dropped to .329. Meanwhile, Cabrera retained a comfortable lead with 133 RBIs. Hamilton is next with 124.
While Mauer and Hamilton both admit they've become fans of Cabrera and are rooting to see history, they're not allowing it to happen without a fight.
"I'm not going to stop playing. I'm rooting for him, but I'm not going to go out there and not try to hit home runs," Hamilton said. "But he's so close, I would definitely like to see it happen."
"It kinds of fun to see a guy like that chasing a Triple Crown," Mauer said. "He's a guy that's done it [consistently] every year. To see him chasing that while they're chasing a playoff spot is pretty fun. ... But I'm going to keep going out there and trying to do what I can do."
Verlander insists sore left shoulder will be fine
DETROIT -- A few days from now it will likely be forgotten, but the Tigers got quite the scare during Monday night's contest, when ace Justin Verlander fell to the ground to field an errant throw and came up in pain holding his left shoulder.
Pitching to Royals center fielder Jarrod Dyson with runners at the corners, catcher Alex Avila tossed the ball back to Verlander, but it was deflected by the home-plate umpire and rolled back to the mound.
Thinking it was a live ball, he dropped to the ground to prevent the potential tying run from crossing the plate and rose gritting his teeth while head athletic trainer Kevin Rand sprinted out of the dugout.
"I think I gave myself a little bit of a scare and everybody else," Verlander said after the Tigers' 6-2 win. "It felt like it tried to pop out. I don't know what the feeling would be like."
Verlander said Rand didn't believe it "came out all the way." And with it being his non-throwing shoulder, the right-hander remained in the game and struck out Dyson and Alcides Escobar on 99- and 100-mph fastballs to end the inning.
Verlander also went on to throw 114 pitches and complete eight innings.
"I felt it for a little bit and then it went away," he said. "I got ice on it after the game and they said it will be pretty sore [Tuesday]."
On Tuesday, Verlander emerged from the training room sporting a red mark on the shoulder where he had been icing it. He said it felt as predicted, but after a few days of ice it should be back to normal.
"It was sore this morning, but it'll be fine," he said.
Tigers keep tabs on Indians-White Sox series
DETROIT -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland holds White Sox designated hitter Adam Dunn in the highest regard. He's frequently called Dunn the "best power hitter in baseball" throughout the season. But he wasn't a big fan of Dunn on Monday night, nor of Indians reliever Vinnie Pestano.
Having just finished defeating the Royals, 6-2, and moving a half-game back of Chicago for first place in the American League Central standings, Leyland watched in the Indians-White Sox game in his office.
At the time, it was the eighth inning and Pestano, who hasn't allowed a run to the Tigers in 12 innings, was on the mound. With runners at the corners, Dunn stepped up having homered earlier in the night. On an 0-2 count, a one-run White Sox deficit turned into a two-run lead as Dunn hit his 41st bomb of the year.
As a result, the Tigers dropped once again to a full game back.
"I'm ashamed of myself of what I called Vinnie Pestano," said Leyland with a smile. "I was sitting here very comfortable, got 0-2 on him and within five seconds I was in the shower. He had him 0-2, and he didn't try to, but it wasn't pretty."
It was a sudden change of events that the Detroit players had trouble comprehending, too.
"It's unbelievable how Pestano is one of the best pitchers for the Indians and how he gave a home run to Dunn in the eighth inning," Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta said. "That's amazing."
However, while the team was taking batting practice prior to facing the Royals on Tuesday, the Indians' reliever pitched a scoreless eighth inning. The media had cleared out before Cleveland won, 4-3, and put the Tigers in position to pull into a tie atop the division, but it's safe to assume the words for Pestano were a bit kinder.
Tigers starter Max Scherzer (right shoulder fatigue) said after his outing on Sunday that he wasn't in his normal routine between starts and therefore didn't have the same zip on his fastball. However, Scherzer has since been cleared to conduct his normal activities and the hope is he'll be back to full strength.
The controversial ending to Monday night's Packers-Seahawks NFL game had an impact in the Tigers' clubhouse, where it cost Miguel Cabrera a win over Rick Porcello in the players' Fantasy Football league. Porcello had to explain that one to him on Tuesday.
Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta entered Tuesday night's game batting .169 for September. It's his worst month of the season and it was also his worst month in 2011 as well. He hit .259 in September 2011, and .220 in the postseason.
Anthony Odoardi is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.