Two plays that cost Tigers on Tuesday
Yes, you can look at a few other reasons why the Tigers lost on Tuesday, including an 0-for-9 performance with runners in scoring position that allowed them to squander leadoff baserunners. Even so, after Miguel Cabrera’s two-run homer tied it, the game turned in Cleveland’s favor on two plays.
The first was Travis Hafner’s triple and the pursuit both center fielder Austin Jackson and left fielder Quintin Berry gave to it. Both went after the ball as if they had a chance to catch it. Neither peeled off to back up the other. While Jackson did pull up around the warning track, Berry continued into the wall, slowing up in time to avoid a major collision but still running into it as the ball hit to his right.
“It looked like, to me, Jackson thought Berry was going to catch it,” Leyland said.
Berry thought he was going to catch it.
“I didn’t think it was going to get all the way to the wall,” Berry said. “It’s one of those things where you’ve got a guy battling on the mound for you. You try to battle for him and give him everything you possibly can. We both went after it and neither one of us was backing up. I probably should’ve pulled up, tried to play it off the wall, but when you think you can get it, you try to go get it.”
Said Leyland: “With those two guys, normally one of the two will catch that ball, I believe.”
It looked like that effort, and the lack of a backup as the ball got by Jackson, allowed Hafner the time he needed to take third base. So instead of a runner on second and one out, the Indians had Hafner on third, leading to Lou Marson pinch-running and Aaron Cunningham looking to bunt.
The Tigers saw it coming, obviously. The question was in which count.
“I thought he might wait to see if he got the count in his favor,” Leyland said, “but it was a great call by Manny [Acta]. He didn’t wait, he got it down and they got the run in. And obviously, that was the run that beat us.”
The bunt came on a 1-1 pitch from Doug Fister.
“It was a great call,” Leyland said. “We certainly were aware that it was a possibility, obviously. The combinations were pretty much set up for it. It’s a right-handed hitter, and all the rest of them are left-handed hitters. We didn’t pitch out, but I knew every time somebody was going to squeeze, I’d be a miracle man. Were we suspicious of it? Absolutely, but we didn’t pull the trigger on a pitchout. Give them credit.”