On Wednesday night, the Minnesota Twins were playing the Detroit Tigers. Going into the top of the fourth inning the game was scoreless. With one down Ian Kinsler doubled and that brought Miguel Cabrera to the plate. With first base open, the Twins chose to pitch to Cabrera; Miggy doubled and the Tigers were up 1-0.
Going into the top of the sixth, the Twins were up 7-3 and Cabrera was leading off the inning. The Twins gave him something hittable in a 2-1 count and Miggy homered. They got him out in the seventh inning, but in the ninth, with Detroit up by one run, the Twins once again pitched to Cabrera and Cabrera once again homered, driving in two runs.
The Minnesota Twins lost by three runs and Miguel Cabrera drove in four.
So let’s go back and figure out what would have happened if the Twins had worked around Cabrera when they had the chance. (By the way: this is totally unfair because if they’d worked around Cabrera, the Twins might have pitched the people in front of him and behind him a little differently, but to heck with “fair” — I’m on a roll.)
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Had everything else stayed the same — and it probably wouldn’t have — the Tigers would not have scored that run in fourth. In the sixth inning, because J.D. Martinez homered after Cabrera, his run would still have scored, but at least you made J.D. Martinez beat you, not the best hitter on the planet. Had the Twins walked Cabrera in the ninth, the Tigers would not have scored twice.
So walk Cabrera and you take three runs off the board in a game you lost by — drum roll, please — three runs.
Actually, we can never really know what would have happened if the Twins had worked around Cabrera, but what we do know is they didn’t and paid the price. We also know that Miguel Cabrera is currently hitting .373 and the guy behind him in the lineup — Victor Martinez — is batting .231 (although the switch-hitting Martinez is hitting much better than that from the right side). We also know Martinez is slugging .246 and Cabrera’s slugging percentage is .627. We also know (this is the last one, I promise) that when you pitch to Miguel Cabrera, he hits about .320 and drives in over a hundred runs.
Obviously Victor Martinez isn’t chopped liver, but he also isn’t Miguel Cabrera — and right now Victor Martinez isn’t even Victor Martinez. He’s off to a slow start and the Royals might be able to take advantage of that.
Thursday night, Danny Duffy worked around Cabrera twice and only pitched to him after the Royals had a sizeable lead. And once Duffy did pitch to Cabrera, he got a hit. The only time the Royals sent Cabrera back to the dugout was when Jason Frasor struck him out in the eighth inning, and by then the Royals were up by seven runs.
The Detroit lineup is filled with very good hitters, so you have to pick your poison. But even among a group of very good hitters, one of them stands out from the crowd.
Don’t let Miguel Cabrera beat you.
And first base doesn’t even have to be open
I can’t remember all the circumstances, but the Royals had a multi-run lead late and Wade Davis was on the mound. The Tigers had the bases loaded and Cabrera at the plate.
Wade walked Miggy.
After the game I asked Davis if the walk had been semi-intentional and Wade smiled and said: “One run is better than four.”
Enjoy the Detroit series, but watch out for Cleveland
Thursday night, more than 28,000 people showed up at Kauffman Stadium to see the Kansas City Royals take on the Detroit Tigers. Small wonder; the teams are separated by half a game and first place is at stake. And even bigger crowds are expected over the weekend.
And that’s what makes the Cleveland series worrisome.
Over the weekend, the Royals will play a very good Detroit team in front of big crowds; they won’t have any difficulty getting up for those games. But the Royals have an off day on Monday — and ballplayers tend to get up to hijinks when they have a night off — and then the Royals start a three-game series against a team that’s currently in last place. The crowds will be smaller, and it’s not hard to imagine the Royals coming out flat.
Fortunately, the Indians also have Monday off, so if you see one of the Tribe wandering around the Plaza that night, offer to buy them a drink or three — you’ll be doing the Royals a favor.
If you see a Royal, tell him to go home and get some sleep.