Walk to Cabrera nearly costs Rangers, but throw to plate bails out Washington
After a 2-for-4 night with a double and a homer Tuesday, he got the Tigers on the board with a two-out double in that third inning, hitting the signage in left-center field on the fly.
That was the only time the Rangers let Cabrera swing, though.
With one out and the bases empty, manager Ron Washington intentionally walked Cabrera — representing the go-ahead run — to get to Victor Martinez, Delmon Young and Alex Avila.
Martinez — who is hitting .390 after a walk to Cabrera — made the Rangers pay momentarily, driving a high chopper over the head of Michael Young at first, willing Cabrera around to third with the Carlton Fisk wave as he ran up the baseline.
“It almost didn’t (work), but we tried to pitch around Cabrera twice, and he got us. So this time, I wasn’t taking any chance,” Washington said. “You know, I just was not going to let him take a swing of the bat, because I took chances before, and he made me pay for it both times. First time, shame on you, next time, shame on me. I respect Martinez a heck of a lot. Once again, he got that base hit and we almost paid for it, but I certainly wasn't going to let (Cabrera) have a swing of the bat there and beat us.”
Cabrera tagged and tried to score. The throw from Nelson Cruz beat him to the plate, and catcher Mike Napoli held on, despite getting hit by the 270-pound truck barreling down the third-base line at him.
"I know in that situation, there's probably going to be a collision at the plate, or it's going to be a close play. Crucial time of the game. Nellie gave me a good throw, gave me enough time to where I can brace and get low, and just a great play," Napoli said. "He has one of the best arms in the game. He came up firing, and gave me a good one-hop."
With Cabrera the runner on third, the decision came down to whether or not to be cautious and see if Avila — hitting .059 in the postseason — can come up with a hit, or if you want to be aggressive.
Third base coach Gene Lamont chose the latter.
“I thought it was a great decision to send him. If the throw is off line, he makes it. if it’s not, he’s out. Other than Austin jackson ... I don’t know that anybody would have made it if you threw it on the money,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “You make him throw him out at the plate. It was the right call.”
But in terms of results, the Tigers' strategy didn’t work, and Washington’s did.