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07/28/09 9:30 PM ET

Cabrera's run production waning

Leyland patiently waits for slugger to break out

ARLINGTON -- Miguel Cabrera said last week he felt like he was trying to drive in 10 runs with one swing of the bat. As his bizarre season at the plate continues, he sounded like someone who was trying to simplify matters when he stepped to the plate.

"I want to do my job," Cabrera said Tuesday. "That's it."

The numbers would suggest that he's doing quite well at that, until one looks at the statistical splits. Overall, his .326 batting average entering Tuesday's 7-3 loss to the Rangers ranked fourth among American League hitters, and his .933 OPS ranked 14th. He added to both of those figures with a pair of opposite-field singles in his first two at-bats. While he has faded a little bit since his torrid opening month, his average has held nearly steady in the .320s or low .330s since dropping off from the .350s at the start of June.

Run production, however, has somehow been another matter with him. His .267 average with runners in scoring position for the season ranked nearly 60 points below his overall average. He was just 4-for-23 (.174) with a runner on third and less than two outs, with no sacrifice flies.

Since May 27, Cabrera is just 5-for-45 with runners in scoring position, and all five hits are singles. No Major Leaguer has a lower average with runners in scoring position in that stretch. Kansas City's Yuniesky Betancourt was hitting for the same clip at 3-for-27, but two of his hits were doubles.

The result was 53 RBIs through Monday, putting Cabrera on pace for 87 on the season. By comparison, his lowest total for a full season in his career is 112 in 2004.

Manager Jim Leyland doesn't want to single out Cabrera but, when asked, he doesn't have an answer for Cabrera's situational struggles, either. He does, however, believe Cabrera could be close to breaking out.

"That guy can carry you for a while," Leyland said.

If the Tigers are to contend, they might need him to.

Leyland has said over the course of the Tigers' struggles the past couple weeks that hits in key situations often come down to relaxation and concentration. The latter usually isn't a problem for Cabrera, but his comments last week made it sound like he's having a hard time staying relaxed. It sounded like he was feeling pressure similar to that which he felt early last season, in his first month or so as a Tiger.

On Tuesday, he said he wasn't feeling that way.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.