Washington: “I decided to take my chances”
That might be the best statement about the Tigers offense at this point. Rangers manager Ron Washington was willing to put the tying run on base and risk losing the game on a Victor Martinez home run rather than let Miguel Cabrera take a swing at tying it.
Doesn’t mean Martinez can’t do it. But the way he’s hitting, Washington liked his odds. The way the Tigers are hitting in general, aside from Cabrera and Jhonny Peralta, it’s a struggle.
“I had to pick my poison,” Washington said, “and I didn’t want Cabrera taking us to extra innings. Martinez is a good hitter and I have respect for him but he’s not swinging the bat well. He could have caught one and won the ballgame but I decided to take my chances. I didn’t want Cabrera tying that game.”
Thus, after Ryan Raburn’s two-out double extended a 2-0 game for Cabrera, Neftali Feliz walked him. Cabrera is 1-for-3 off Feliz, but that one hit was a home run. Martinez was 1-for-1, but that hit was a single.
The move paid off. And while it was risky, the Tigers didn’t act surprised.
“I think the answer is very simple: They did what they felt gave them the best chance to win the game,” Jim Leyland said. “And that’s what you do as a manager. If they felt that was their best chance to win the game, then that’s what they should do. I give them a lot of credit.
“They felt that was their best shot to win the game, and I felt very comfortable with Victor in that position, a very professional hitter, a very good RBI guy. And it looked like he was pitching him a little bit careful.”
Martinez swung at a 2-0 fastball on the outside corner and grounded it into the hole, where the Rangers had second baseman Ian Kinsler positioned.
Leyland has insisted the last couple years that the only hitter who can protect Miguel Cabrera in the order is Miguel Cabrera. On Monday, it seemed like the only hitter who could support Justin Verlander was Miguel Cabrera. And even Verlander didn’t seem shocked at what the Rangers did.
“A little bit [surprised],” Verlander said. “They put the tying run on, obviously, with Victor behind him. But Miguel’s one of the best hitters in the league, if not the best hitter. I have a feeling those guys came in here and had a game plan to not let him hurt them. So obviously, that’s the easiest way to not let him do anything.”