Rangers pitching very carefully around Cabrera
They're pitching very carefully around the big man, and it's part of the reason the Tigers — the lowest-scoring team in the Divisional Series round — are averaging just north of three runs (3.14) runs per game in the postseason, scoring no more than that in either game this series.
It didn't help that the Tigers as a team were 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position. Before Ryan Raburn's three-run, third-inning home run, the Tigers had been 2-for-29 with runners in scoring position. For comparison, Cabrera hit .388 with men in scoring position in the regular season, while Victor Martinez hit .394.
With a base open in the ninth inning, Rangers manager Ron Washington chose to walk Cabrera in to load the bases for Martinez. Closer Neftali Feliz — who can be wild at times — got Martinez to pop out to short to end the threat. The against-the-book decision paid off, it seems.
"No, it didn't go against my book when you had to pick your poison there. You had to decide if you wanted to give Cabrera a chance to beat you, or you had to go with Martinez who can also beat you," Washington said.
"When this series started, we said we were not going to give Cabrera a chance to swing the bat and beat us, so Martinez had to do it. Neffy come in and get all kinds of hitters out. Lefties, righties and if there's any other different kind. It was just one of those things where you had to pick your poison. And we decided to go with Martinez and he got him."
Cabrera is now hitting .217 in the postseason. Outside of his 3-for-4 day in Game 2 of the ALDS, he's had just two hits, including Monday's double.
Is there something not going right? A different approach that's not working?
"He's been — I've seen him locked in for the last two months unbelievable. He looked like a man on a mission to win the batting title. I think he's still on that mission," Leyland said. "So that might be a better question for him. I don't see anything. Every once in a while he strays, swings at a bat pitch. But that happens to everybody.
"So I don't really see any difference. I think he's been on a mission for a couple of months. I think he made up his mind he was going to win the batting title, and he won it."