Tigers slugger comes through at the hot corner in AL's victory
NEW YORK -- The fans voted Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera into the All-Star Game starting lineup for the first time to see a highlight or two. They likely expected them to come from his bat, not his glove.
Of course, fewer probably figured on Prince Fielder making an impact with a triple and a slide.
All in all, it was a pretty big night for the Tigers, who put five players into the All-Star Game, and each of them contributed in some way to the American League's 3-0 victory on Tuesday at Citi Field.
"That just shows you how much talent we have in Detroit," said starting pitcher Max Scherzer, who delivered a perfect first inning. "That's what makes us so proud. When you have guys like Miggy, Prince, [Justin] Verlander, Torii [Hunter], Jhonny [Peralta] and myself, it's really fun to be a part of this team."
Cabrera didn't disappoint at the plate, slashing a double to the fence and scoring the game's first run, but his defense made just as much of an impact. With at least three above-average plays at third base, he helped the AL's shutout effort.
Two of those plays kept the Mets' David Wright, the hometown hero of this Midsummer Classic, off base. Cabrera snared a second-inning grounder down the line with a nice barehanded grab and threw across the infield to beat Wright at first. Two innings later, Cabrera charged in and threw across to deny Wright of an infield single.
Earlier in that fourth inning, Cabrera made another running play and throw to retire the Reds' Brandon Phillips.
"The thing is, Miggy's not going to win a Gold Glove," Scherzer said. "At the same time, he puts so much effort into his defense, and he cares so much about his defense because it's a reflection of us. That's something he always has done, and I absolutely respect him, to this day, about how much effort and how much thought he puts into his defense.
"You see some superstars that don't do that. He's one of the very few superstars that do, and I have the most respect for him. That's why I think not only is he the best player in the game, but that just shows you the type of person, the type of character and why he's the best teammate, too."
Cabrera said before the game that his back wasn't much of an issue. His left hip was actually more sore on this day, and that seemed to loosen up.
Cabrera's first at-bat was a victory for National League starting pitcher Matt Harvey, whose 2-2 offspeed pitch induced Cabrera to chase off the outside corner. D-backs lefty Patrick Corbin looked like he tried to do the same thing in Cabrera's next at-bat, sending a slider toward the outside corner in the top of the fourth after the previous pitch sent Cabrera's bat flying out of his hands and into the stands behind home plate.
That pitch, however, wasn't far enough out, not by Cabrera's standards. With a flick of the bat, Cabrera sent a liner deep into the gap in right-center field. Chris Davis, the looming obstacle between Cabrera and a second consecutive Triple Crown, moved Cabrera to third with a liner just over first baseman Joey Votto's glove before Jose Bautista hit a sacrifice fly to center to drive him in.
Cabrera fouled out in the sixth inning against Marlins rookie Jose Fernandez before the Orioles' Manny Machado replaced him in the bottom of the inning.
At the same time Cabrera came out, Fielder came in, replacing Davis at first. Peralta replaced J.J. Hardy at shortstop an inning later. Peralta, making his second All-Star appearance, came to bat in the eighth and hit an opposite-field single. Hunter pinch-hit for his former teammate, the Angels' Mike Trout, and hit into a double play.
The offensive highlight, however, came in Fielder's only at-bat in the ninth, facing former Tiger Jason Grilli. Fielder hit a sinking ball into shallow right field that Carlos Gomez tried to get under for a highlight catch. Instead, the ball skipped by him and kept rolling.
Fielder, a teammate of Gomez in Milwaukee for two years, saw the ball skip past him and took off running.
"Once I touched second and saw he was still running after it, I figured I had a shot," Fielder said wryly.
Once he rounded second, a Fielder slide into third seemed inevitable. His slides have become highlights in Detroit, not for artistic form.
"We were laughing," Gomez said, "because as soon as we saw [Gomez] miss, it's like, 'Come on Prince, show them your speed! We know you've got speed!' We were all having fun with it. It was great."
Four Tigers hitters combined for as many hits as the entire National League. Detroit went 3-for-6 with six total bases and a run scored, which is one more than the NL tallied.