Third baseman doesn't reach base for first time since 2003 World Series
DETROIT -- Monday was the 10th anniversary of Steve Bartman's infamous attempt at a foul ball, the unofficial start of the Marlins' rally that carried them all the way to the World Series. Tuesday was Miguel Cabrera's first postseason game without reaching base safely since that 2003 championship run with the Marlins.
Cabrera had reached base on a hit or a walk in an MLB-record 31 consecutive postseason games, every playoff game he has played as a Detroit Tiger, before John Lackey and Junichi Tazawa shut him down in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series. If the Tigers are going to get back to the World Series, he'll probably need to start a new streak to help them get there.
Cabrera was seemingly heating up at the plate and getting his power swing back, having homered in two of his three previous postseason contests and barely missing a second home run in Game 2 on Sunday night. Red Sox pitching cooled him off by getting him to chase.
"I swing at a lot of high pitches, balls out of the zone," Cabrera said. "I need to do better tomorrow and swing at strikes."
When Cabrera's on, he can get away with that and do damage. He wasn't going to do much with some of his pitches Tuesday.
His first-inning fly ball to center came on a high strike from Lackey, who then put him in an 0-2 count his next time up by climbing further up with his fastball, the last on a 1-2 pitch to get a swing and miss.
Lackey threw Cabrera a steady diet of fastballs up and away in the sixth inning, drawing two swings and misses before getting one down just enough to hit. He got under it and popped out to first.
It was a demonstration of what Lackey hinted at on Monday when asked how he'd try to get him out.
"There's not one way I can go about it," Lackey said then. "I'm going to have to make a lot of good pitches in a lot of different spots. He's really good."
The biggest of the Cabrera outs, however, came from Tazawa, who faced him with one out and the tying run at third. Cabrera swung and missed at the first two fastballs, the first one in the zone, the second one high and away. He shrugged off an 0-2 pitch well off the plate, then swung and missed at one just off.
The slam Cabrera gave to his bat putting it in the dugout rack was about as much of a sign of frustration as he gives.
"Gotta swing at better pitches," he repeated after the game.
It marked just the third time in 49 career postseason games that Cabrera didn't reach base safely. All three games included multiple strikeouts.