Third baseman, battling injuries, replaced in eighth in one-run game
DETROIT -- With Miguel Cabrera clearly hobbled at third base, Tigers manager Jim Leyland was forced to make a tough decision in the waning moments of Saturday night's American League Championship Series Game 1 against the Red Sox.
Detroit was clinging to a slim 1-0 lead heading into the bottom of the eighth, with Shane Victorino and Dustin Pedroia due up for Boston. The potential speed for the Red Sox was a concern, and Leyland didn't want to be caught off guard.
With the fear of a bunt down the third-base line, Leyland decided to pull Cabrera from the game in favor of a defensive upgrade at third with Ramon Santiago. It was an understandable move but one that Leyland admitted he struggled with as he decides how best to use the injured Cabrera.
"I wasn't comfortable doing that, particularly in this ballpark with a 1-0 lead," Leyland said following his club's victory in Game 1. "We know we're handicapped a little bit, because of our situation. I think the biggest key in that situation was the two guys that they had coming up to lead off that inning were Victorino and Pedroia.
"Both are excellent baseball players, both smart. Victorino could have dropped the bunt down on Miggy. Pedroia could have dropped a bunt on Miggy. We felt like that was the best way to go."
Cabrera has battled nagging injuries since the end of June but isn't about to sit out any games in October. He is currently dealing with issues in his left hip, abdominal muscle and groin area which has affected his range at third.
That has prompted a lot of questions about whether the Red Sox would try and take advantage of that situation during the ALCS. Boston manager John Farrell conceded after the game that it has come up in conversations and that it might be something the club looks at more in the future.
There were a pair of bunts by the Red Sox on Saturday night, but for the most part, Cabrera went untested at third.
"We showed a few attempts to do that, whether it was [David] Ross, Victorino pushing one up the first-base line," Farrell said. "We're trying to get on base a couple of different ways and we took a couple of opportunities to try to make him be a little more active down there.
"But in the end, we're looking to get on base any time we can. And by virtue of the deep counts, we drew a decent number of walks to put some men on base. But I can't say that we missed opportunities by [not] making [Cabrera] move any more than we did."