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Tag:Miguel Cabrera
Posted on: October 29, 2011 6:47 pm
 

Best game ever? How about best month ever?

The Yankees don't think it was such a great month. The Phillies are sure it wasn't a great month.

Oh, and the Red Sox? No, the last 31 days weren't exactly pleasant for them.

But it sure was great for the rest of us, the best month of baseball most of us have seen, or will see, in our lifetimes.

If it gets better than this, I won't complain. But I'm not planning on it.

We had the best single regular-season night ever, on the final night of the regular season, and maybe the best game ever, on the next-to-last night of the World Series.

We had so many great games that the best individual offensive performance in World Series history barely makes the list. So many that Chris Carpenter's three-hit 1-0 shutout in a winner-take-all Game 5 wasn't even his most important performance of the month.

This is the third year now that I've written a postseason recap, and it's the first time that the best game of the month wasn't the first game I saw. Nothing against Tigers-Twins (Game 163 in 2009) or Roy Halladay's no-hitter (Division Series 2010), but it's a better month when the drama builds.

This month, we saw Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera, Chris Carpenter, Nelson Cruz and David Freese. We saw squirrels. We saw Na-po-li. We saw history.

We saw Game 6.

What a month.

Here's a look back:

Best game: Some people are insisting that Game 6 of the World Series can't be called great, because there were physical errors early and possible managerial errors late. Sorry, but that's ridiculous. So it wasn't the best-played game ever. Fine. It had thrills, it had drama, it had plenty to second-guess, it had great performances and gritty performances. You go ahead and say it wasn't perfect. I'm going to say it was the best game I've ever seen.

Best moment: The flashbulbs going off when Albert Pujols batted in the seventh inning of Game 7 were great. Yes, it could have been his final Cardinals at-bat. But the best moment of the postseason -- Pujols' best moment -- was when he called time out to allow the Miller Park crowd to honor Prince Fielder, who very, very likely was stepping to the plate for his final Brewers at-bat.

Best chant: In the end, maybe this wasn't the Year of the Napoli, after all. But it sure was the month of the "Na!-Po!-Li!" at Rangers Ballpark. Mike Napoli became such an instant hero that I saw a Rangers fan who had altered his year-old Cliff Lee jersey, adding "Na-po" above the "Lee."

Best crowd: It was incredibly loud all month in Texas. It was louder than ever in St. Louis for the final outs of Game 7. But everyone who was at Miller Park this month came back raving about the atmosphere and the Brewers' fans (and everyone who was at Chase Field said there was barely any atmosphere for the Diamondbacks' two home games).

Best player: Tough call. Freese was a revelation, and not just in the World Series. Cabrera was outstanding. So was Ryan Braun. But Pujols was the guy I'll remember most, from his great defensive play against the Phillies to his historic three-homer game against the Rangers.

Best movie review: Moneyball took a beating every time Cardinals manager Tony La Russa took to the podium. La Russa went to see the movie the night Game 6 was rained out, and the next night he said that it "strains the credibility a little bit." La Russa, like others, complained about the portrayal of scouts, and about the lack of mentions of Miguel Tejada, Eric Chavez, Mark Mulder, Barry Zito and Tim Hudson. "That club was carried by those guys that were signed, developed the old-fashioned way," La Russa said. "That part wasn't enjoyable, because it's a nice story but it is not accurate enough."

Most disappointing team: The Red Sox. The Phillies didn't make it out of the first round. Neither did the Yankees, who then apologized to their fans for their "failure." But Boston's collapse was so bad that it led to the departure of the manager and general manager who broke the curse. The Red Sox will recover, but they'll never be the same.

Best prediction: It's well established by now that I can't pick winners. But when the postseason began, I jokingly wrote that every series would go the distance. Turned out I was almost right, as 38 of a possible 41 games were required. Three of the four Division Series went the distance (and none were sweeps). Both League Championship Series went six games. And the World Series went seven, for the first time in nine years. Oh, and I even picked the World Series winner, Cardinals in 7, even if I did it because Rangers officials demanded that I pick against them.

Five who helped themselves: 1. Pujols. I'm not saying it makes a difference in his final free-agent price, but a great postseason reminded all of us how good he really is.

2. John Mozeliak. You think Cardinals fans will finally admit that it was a good idea to trade Colby Rasmus to help this team win now?

3. Mike Napoli. The Angels traded this guy for Vernon Wells. The Blue Jays then traded this guy for Frank Francisco. The Rangers will not be trading him.

4. Ryan Braun. MVP voting includes only the regular season, and not the postseason. But anyone who chose Braun over Matt Kemp in the National League race had to be happy to see him hit .405 with a 1.182 OPS in October.

5. David Freese. He was the best story of the month, the hometown kid who quit baseball after high school, and came back to become the World Series MVP. Now everyone knows him.

Five who hurt themselves: 1. C.J. Wilson. He's still going to get overpaid on the free-agent market, but imagine how much he might have gotten if he'd had a good October, instead of a lousy one.

2. CC Sabathia. He's still going to get a great new contract, too, but imagine how much he might have gotten if his postseason ERA was 1.23, instead of 6.23 (and if his waist size didn't expand just as fast).

3. Cliff Lee. The team he left went to the World Series without him. And the team he couldn't beat in Game 2, after his teammates gave him a 4-0 lead, went on to win the World Series.

4. Alex Rodriguez. Two years ago, he had a nice October and shed the label of postseason choker. This year, he went 2-for-18 against the Tigers and appeared on the back page of the New York Post as one of the Three Stooges (along with Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira).

5. Tony La Russa (for about 48 hours). I'm guessing Cardinals fans will now totally forgive him for the phone/noise/bullpen mess from Game 5. He's now the guy who has won two World Series in St. Louis, to go with the one he won in Oakland. Still one of the very best managers in the game -- in the history of the game, that is.


Posted on: October 13, 2011 7:43 pm
Edited on: October 13, 2011 9:13 pm
 

Tigers win, and incredible ALCS goes on

DETROIT -- The Tigers needed a big performance from Justin Verlander.

They also needed some breaks.

They got both, and this fantastic American League Championship Series is headed back to Texas for the weekend. And as unlikely as it seemed late Wednesday night and Thursday morning, there's now a real chance the Tigers could win this series.

The Rangers still lead the ALCS, three games to two, but you could argue that both remaining pitching matchups -- Max Scherzer vs. Derek Holland in Saturday's Game 6, and Doug Fister vs. Colby Lewis if it goes to Game 7 Sunday -- would favor the Tigers.

It should be a fascinating finish. This series deserves it.

There was more drama Thursday, with the Tigers trying to save their season on a day when manager Jim Leyland declared that both Jose Valverde and Joaquin Benoit -- the only two relievers he really trusts -- were unavailable due to too much work the last three days.

Leyland pushed Verlander to a career-high 133 pitches, finally pulling him after he allowed a two-run home run to Nelson Cruz (who else?) on the 133rd pitch.

Oh, and that 133rd pitch was a 100 mph fastball.

Crazy.

Kind of like the sixth inning, when this game (and maybe this series?) turned.

It was 2-2 when the sixth began, and the Rangers had the bases loaded with two out against a tired Verlander. But on Verlander's 113th pitch, Ian Kinsler hit a ground ball to third for an inning-ending double play.

On to the bottom of the sixth, which began with a Ryan Raburn single. Miguel Cabrera followed with a ground ball that seemed headed for third baseman Adrian Beltre, and for a double play. Instead, the ball hit the corner of the third-base bag, hopped over Beltre and rolled all the way into the left-field corner for a run-scoring double.

One break for the Tigers.

The next break: Rangers manager Ron Washington, who has gone to his bullpen early and often in every game of this series, was ultra-slow to get his bullpen working behind starter C.J. Wilson.

Washington inexplicably allowed Wilson to pitch the rest of the sixth inning. Victor Martinez followed Cabrera's freak double with a triple, and Delmon Young followed that with a home run.

With an off day Friday, with Verlander's pitch count soaring and with the Tiger bullpen spent, it was a strange move.

But what a game, and what a series.

Remember, Young wasn't supposed to even be playing, after he strained his oblique in Game 5 against the Yankees. Martinez is ailing, as is Alex Avila, whose home run gave the Tigers their first run of the day.

Incredible series. And now it goes on.




Posted on: October 12, 2011 10:33 pm
 

Cabrera walks, but Cruz, Napoli give Texas a win

DETROIT -- Ron Washington pitched to Miguel Cabrera, and the Rangers lost Game 3. Wrong move.

Ron Washington walked Miguel Cabrera, and the Rangers won Game 4 in 11 innings.

Right move?

Doesn't really matter at this point, does it? The Rangers are one win away from the World Series, up three games to one over Cabrera's Tigers in what has already been a fascinating and thrilling American League Championship Series.

Oh, and it's not Cabrera dominating this series. It's Nelson Cruz.

It's not Cabrera who had the biggest moments of Wednesday's game. It was Cruz -- and Mike Napoli.

Cruz threw Cabrera out at the plate, after Washington put him on base with a bases-empty intentional walk in the eighth inning. Napoli threw Austin Jackson out trying to steal, allowing the Rangers to strand Cabrera on deck in the 10th.

Then Napoli put the Rangers ahead with a one-out single in the 11th. And Cruz followed with a three-run home run, his second extra-inning homer of the series and his 10th career postseason home run.

He's had a great series. The Rangers are having a great series.

It's been a great series to watch.

And now Justin Verlander starts Game 5 Thursday with the Tigers trying to save their season and send the ALCS to Texas.




Posted on: October 11, 2011 11:14 pm
 

Tigers get a win -- and more injuries

DETROIT -- The Tigers are back in this series.

Now, can they stay healthy enough to have a chance to win it?

It was another wild night in the American League Championship Series on Tuesday, and at the end of it the Tigers had their first win. They trail the Rangers two games to one, with a chance to tie the series in Game 4 Wednesday, and with ace Justin Verlander returning for Game 5 Thursday.

Not only that, but Miguel Cabrera's bat looks healthier than it has in days, after a tie-breaking double in the fifth and a towering home run in the seventh.

Speaking of health . . .

Victor Martinez strained an oblique muscle while hitting a home run -- and stayed in the game. Delmon Young, who was off the roster and then back on with an oblique strain, was scratched from the original lineup when he was too sore to play.

Oh, and Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre could barely walk after fouling multiple pitches off his knee and lower leg -- and stayed in the game.

The Rangers depend on Beltre, but at least they have other healthier middle-of-the-order hitters.

With Brennan Boesch and Magglio Ordonez out for the year, with Young more questionable than ever and with Martinez suddenly questionable as well, the Tigers may not.

But they're back in this series, because of Cabrera, because Martinez and Jhonny Peralta also homered (the franchise's first three-homer postseason game since the 1984 World Series), and in large part because of starter Doug Fister, who allowed just two runs in 7 1/3 innings.

Fister is healthy. Cabrera is, too.

Are there enough healthy Tigers around them?
Posted on: October 8, 2011 5:32 pm
Edited on: October 8, 2011 7:23 pm
 

Young out for ALCS, Cabrera bats 3rd

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Delmon Young took batting practice Friday.

Tigers manager Jim Leyland said Young looked great, despite a strained oblique he suffered in the seventh inning of Game 5 on Thursday night in New York.

But later on Friday, Young's oblique stiffened up. Saturday, the Tigers left third No. 3 hitter off the roster for the American League Championship Series that begins Saturday night in Texas. The Tigers replaced him on the roster with infielder Danny Worth, and replaced him in left field with Ryan Raburn.

And in the third spot in the lineup, where Young has been since the Tigers acquired him from the Twins in August? Leyland chose Miguel Cabrera, who he prefers to bat cleanup.

"With Delmon Young out, it changes things for us," Leyland said Saturday afternoon. "It obviously hurts us a little."

Cabrera batted third just once this season. Since coming to the Tigers from the Marlins after the 2007 season, Cabrera has been the cleanup hitter.

Unlike his good friend Tony La Russa, who bats Albert Pujols third so that Pujols is guaranteed to come up in the first inning, Leyland has preferred Cabrera fourth, with the idea that if he comes up in the first inning, it will be with a runner on base.

"Some people have wanted me to hit him there forever," Leyland said.

Young hit three home runs in the Division Series against the Yankees, becoming the first Tiger ever to hit three home runs in a postseason series.

Young's absence could hurt, particularly since the Rangers will use three left-handed starters in the series. Young is 6-for-12 off Derek Holland, who starts Game 2 on Sunday night. But at least Magglio Ordonez has hit much better in the last month of the season and the first round of the playoffs.

Leyland said he thought all night about the lineup, finally settling on Cabrera third, with Victor Martinez and Ordonez behind him, and with Raburn in front of him. He said he liked the idea of Raburn, who has some power, batting third in a game at homer-happy Ranger ballpark.

Leyland said there was some thought of keeping Young on the roster. But if Young played in an ALCS game, reinjured the oblique and then had to be replaced on the roster, he would be ineligible for the World Series. By making the move now, Young could return for the World Series if the Tigers advance.

Besides, Leyland said he doesn't trust oblique injuries.

"I've never seen an oblique be right in a day or two," he said. "When you mention oblique, I get nervous."

*****

The Rangers also made a roster move before the ALCS, activating reliever Yoshinori Tateyama in place of third catcher Matt Treanor.

With the Tigers starting four right-handers in the series, the Rangers don't plan to use Mike Napoli as a designated hitter, and thus have much less need for a third catcher. With so many right-handed hitters in the Tiger lineup, they figured a right-handed matchup reliever could be more valuable.
Posted on: October 2, 2011 6:43 pm
 

Tigers win, and now they have Verlander next

NEW YORK -- Bet the Tigers don't mind having Justin Verlander in Game 3 now.

I'm also thinking that the Yankees now won't throw Miguel Cabrera another strike in this series. Of course, I'm still wondering why they threw him a strike Sunday.

A lot changed in this American League Division Series Sunday, when the Tigers rode Cabrera, Max Scherzer and a shaky Jose Valverde ninth inning to a 5-3 Game 2 win over the Yankees.

The series is tied, at one win apiece. But now if the Yankees don't beat Verlander on Monday night in Detroit, their season rests in A.J. Burnett's unreliable hands in Game 4 Tuesday.

Sunday morning, the Tigers were the team with their season on the brink. They had lost just one game, but they'd gone through both Verlander and Doug Fister, their two most reliable starters this year.

They had no idea what to expect from the talented but erratic Scherzer, the sometimes-forgotten pitcher the Tigers got as part of the three-team Curtis Granderson-Austin Jackson-Ian Kennedy trade after 2009.

What they got from Scherzer on Sunday was 5 1/3 no-hit innings. What they got was six-plus innings and no runs.

Meanwhile, Freddy Garcia made the one mistake you absolutely can't make against the Tigers. He let Cabrera beat him.

With a runner on and two out in the first, he got far too much of the plate and gave up a two-run home run. With runners at first and third and one out in the sixth, he put another pitch on the plate and Cabrera's single made it 3-0.

While Cabrera was huge, Yankee cleanup hitter Alex Rodriguez is 0-for-8 in the series and is once again hearing boos at Yankee Stadium.

More shades of 2006, memories the Tigers will try to fan by having Kenny Rogers throw out the ceremonial first pitch before Verlander takes the mound Monday night at Comerica Park.

The similarities are there now, with rain, a Yankee win in Game 1 and a Tiger win in Game 2.

In '06, Rogers carried a shutout two outs into the eighth inning of Game 3, and the next day Joe Torre batted A-Rod eighth the day the Yankees were eliminated.

It's too early to say this is a repeat.

But Verlander is pitching Game 3.
Posted on: September 17, 2011 1:48 am
 

The Tigers found Fister, and now they're champs

Yeah, there were no impact pitchers available on the July trade market.

No one but Ubaldo Jimenez, and no one was sure that he was a real top of the rotation starter anymore.

No one but Ubaldo Jimenez -- and Doug Fister.

How did we miss him? How did everyone except the Tigers miss him?

"If you hit against him, you know him," Johnny Damon said the other day. "You see the ball. You just can't hit it."

What you see now is the Tigers spraying champagne -- the first major-league champagne celebration this year -- because Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski and his staff identified Fister and went and traded for him.

Justin Verlander is the Tigers' MVP, and he may well be the MVP of the entire American League. Miguel Cabrera is the Tigers' best player, and Victor Martinez may be the most important offseason addition any AL team made last winter.

But just as the Kirk Gibson/Alan Trammell Tigers needed to add Doyle Alexander to win a division title in 1987, the Verlander/Cabrera Tigers needed Fister to win it 24 years later.

Between Doyle and Doug, the Tigers made one trip to the World Series (in 2006), but they never won a division.

Friday, Fister retired 17 in a row at one point. He pitched eight innings and allowed just one run. He improved to 6-1 in nine starts as a Tiger, and he lowered his Tiger ERA to 2.12.

You know the only guy in the last 38 years to make that many starts in a Tiger season with a lower ERA than Fister's 2.12?

Yeah, that would be Doyle Alexander, with a 1.53 ERA in his 11 starts in 2007.

Doyle's Tigers needed an incredible final week, to win the division on the final day. They were spent by the time they got to the playoffs, and lost to the Twins.

Fister's Tigers became the first team to clinch a division (the Phillies clinched a playoff spot earlier this week, but they're waiting to clinch their division before celebrating).

The Tigers have two weeks to get ready for the playoffs, two weeks to line up their rotation.

They'd love to win a few games in those two weeks. They want to stay ahead of the Rangers (who they now lead by two games), so that they'll open at home against the wild-card team (likely the Red Sox). They wouldn't mind winning enough games to pass the Yankees for the best record in the league (they're now three games behind), which would give them home field in a possible American League Championship Series matchup.

"Right now, they look like they could be the scariest team," said Damon, who played for the Tigers last year and plays for the Rays now.

A month ago, baseball people saw the Tigers as a dangerous playoff opponent, simply because of Verlander. Now, scouts watching the American League say they might be the league's best team, because of Verlander, Cabrera and Martinez -- and because of Fister.

They say Cabrera is playing harder -- and running harder -- than he ever has. They say Martinez may get more big hits than even Cabrera.

And they say Fister is the type of starter everyone was looking for in July. The Yankees, the Red Sox, the Indians, the Rangers . . . everyone, probably, except for the Phillies.

The Tigers were the ones who found him languishing with the Mariners. The Tigers were the ones who traded for him.

Now the Tigers are the ones celebrating. They're the first ones celebrating.

And now, the question is whether they'll also be the last ones celebrating.
Posted on: May 3, 2011 4:36 pm
Edited on: May 3, 2011 6:49 pm
 

What will baseball do about its DUI problem?

Baseball suspended Ozzie Guillen for tweeting during a game.

Shin-Soo Choo was arrested for driving under the influence, and he isn't expected to miss a game.

We shouldn't be surprised. Choo is the sixth baseball player to face DUI charges this year alone.

Not one of the six has missed a regular-season game because of it.

I'm not sure what the proper penalty should be. Choo, like the others, does face legal charges.

But like the others, he won't face any baseball charges. There's no precedent for punishing players for off-field matters, and for now the Basic Agreement between the players and owners doesn't provide for it.

With six DUI incidents this year, you can be sure the owners will raise the issue in this summer's negotiations on a new Basic Agreement.

Meanwhile, baseball gets another black eye.

Fortunately, none of the players cited for DUI so far this year seems to have hurt anyone. But fans remember that Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart was killed by a drunk driver two years ago, and one fan suggested to me on Twitter that any player getting a DUI should be forced to donate a month's salary to the Adenhart Memorial Fund.

So far, that's not happening.

All we can do is present the ugly list, with the ugly details, and hope that the next player who goes out drinking remembers that he has enough money to afford a cab home -- and that the potential cost to his reputation is a lot more than the price of that cab ride:

The list:

-- Adam Kennedy, Mariners, Jan. 26 in Newport Beach, Calif. Kennedy signed with the Mariners on Jan. 10. Not even three weeks later, he was calling Seattle reporters to apologize to fans, after he was caught driving over the limit. "Regettable is an understatement," Kennedy told the Seattle Times.

-- Austin Kearns, Indians, Feb. 12 in Nicholasville, Ky. Police said Kearns was driving down an emergency lane without headlights, and was weaving. No wonder he didn't tell the Indians about it until the arrest became public several weeks later.

-- Miguel Cabrera, Tigers, Feb. 16 in St. Lucie County, Fla. This was the ugliest of all of them, with Cabrera allegedly firing threats and drinking Scotch in front of police officers. Baseball worked out a treatment plan for Cabrera, but said he would face penalties if he didn't stick to the plan.

-- Coco Crisp, A's, March 2 in Scottsdale, Ariz. Crisp was stopped at 2:15 a.m., driving a 2009 Rolls Royce Phantom with an expired license.

-- Derek Lowe, Braves, April 28 in Atlanta. Another bad one. According to police, Lowe was drag-racing another car, while drunk, on Peachtree Road in Buckhead.

-- Shin-soo Choo, Indians, May 2 in Sheffield Lake, Ohio. The details are still to emerge on this one, but Choo was picked up early Monday morning. Police said he blew a 0.20 on the Breathalyzer test, more than twice the legal limit. Police also said he asked an officer for directions to his (Choo's) home, then was weaving as he drove away and was pulled over.



 
 
 
 
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