Aggressive baserunning stalls Tigers' early rally against Lester in Game 5
DETROIT -- Tigers third-base coach Tom Brookens tried to put the brakes on Miguel Cabrera, but he was too late. Cabrera was already churning around third base, motivated to score on Jhonny Peralta's two-out single to left field even though Cabrera is hurt and not, well, fleet of foot -- and he never stood a chance.
"I think when I held him up, it was probably a little too late," Brookens said. "He had already kept coming. I was hoping he would see me and stop, but Miggy sometimes, when you get him going, he just keeps going. And I think that's really what happened. I think he saw me waving initially, 'Come on, come on,' and then when I tried to stop him, it was too late."
On a night when the Tigers once again struggled to string hits together -- losing, 4-3, Thursday to fall behind, 3-2, in this best-of-seven American League Championship Series -- this was a play that seemed to alter momentum. Detroit was getting to Red Sox starter Jon Lester in the first inning, but the aggressiveness that had Cabrera thrown out easily at home plate killed a potential rally.
The next inning, the Red Sox scored three runs against Anibal Sanchez, then added another one in the third -- and the Tigers never had the upper hand again.
"In that situation with two outs, you want to be aggressive," Cabrera said. "[Brookens] wants to be aggressive, too. We want to score, and he tried to stop me, but I ran. It was a mistake I made."
One night earlier, the Tigers seemed energized by the drastic lineup changes of manager Jim Leyland, scoring five runs in one inning against Jake Peavy and riding that to a 7-3 victory. On Thursday, they couldn't erase a four-run deficit, receiving only a couple of RBI singles from Cabrera and catcher Brayan Pena -- who filled in for an injured Alex Avila in the fourth -- and scoring their third and final run on a rally-killing double play by their Triple Crown winner.
Torii Hunter, Cabrera and Prince Fielder -- the new top three in the lineup, respectively -- went a combined 3-for-11, and Fielder was booed after a 1-for-4 performance that made him 9-for-37 with one extra-base hit in these playoffs.
"It's definitely not pleasant," Fielder said of the reaction from a sold-out Comerica Park. "They're fans; that's what they do. They paid to come."
Fielder, obtained two offseasons ago on a nine-year, $214 million contract, hasn't driven in a run in the playoffs since Game 1 of last year's ALCS against the Yankees, a span of 17 games. His last postseason homer came in Game 4 of the 2012 Division Series against the A's -- a span of 19 games.
"I'd like to hit the ball more in the air," Fielder said, "but I don't have a magic wand, so I'm just going to have to hit it hard."
The Tigers' best chance to close the gap came in the seventh when trailing by two. Jose Iglesias and Hunter led off with back-to-back singles to put runners on the corners with no outs for Cabrera and Fielder, but Cabrera bounced into a 4-3 double play.
It brought in a run, but the Tigers needed more.
"We got down 4-0 early, and we just tried to chip away," Hunter said. "You can't try to get all of it at once. We got close, but no cigar."