Game 23: Cabrera gets the rare 3-0 homer

If Jim Leyland has said it once, he has said it 100 times: He has given more green lights to swing on 3-0 counts in Detroit than he did in any of his other managerial stops. Most players don’t feel comfortable swinging at 3-0 pitches.

Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder have standing green lights on 3-0 counts, Leyland said.

“I never give Miguel the take, him and Prince,” Leyland said, “unless you think the game’s a lopsided game where you don’t want to get somebody hit or something like that.”

Yet Cabrera is much more likely to take than to swing on 3-0. A big part of the reason is the opposing pitcher. If a pitcher gets to a 3-0 count on Cabrera, he’s far more likely to just give him ball four than throw a get-me-over pitch for strike one.

Out of 6,583 career plate appearances, Cabrera has had a 3-0 count 469 times. On 255 occasions, he has walked on the next pitch, 154 times intentionally. On 83 other occasions, he has walked on a 3-1 or 3-2 pitch, while he has 131 at-bats after a 3-0 count.

How many times has Cabrera put the 3-0 pitch in play? Try 13, seven of them as a Tiger. His only previous extra-base hit off a 3-0 pitch was a 2009 home run off Minnesota’s Anthony Swarzak.

On Sunday, he got a rare get-me-over fastball from Cory Gearrin and lined it into the right-field seats for a three-run homer. In so doing, he demonstrated why most pitchers would rather walk him on 3-0.

“I thought he might swing,” Leyland said. “He’s smart, but he didn’t try to do too much with it. But at the same time, most guys that would’ve gone to right field in that situation, they might have got a single, maybe a double. Like I’ve said, he’s the best I’ve ever seen opposite field power, so it didn’t surprise me. I mean, that was just a lined shot out of the ballpark. Not many guys can do that.”

That makes him 6-for-13 for his career when he puts a 3-0 pitch in play. Even if you take the intentional walk out of consideration, he’s ten times more likely to walk than put the pitch in play.

“He knows when it’s the right situation to swing 3-0,” Cabrera said. “Sometimes we need a guy on base and he makes sure we take. It’s baseball.”

Play of the game: Omar Infante’s second home run in as many games was technically an insurance run, but the solo shot was actually the catalyst for a four-run seventh-inning rally. If not for his drive to left, the inning doesn’t continue for the top of the order to set the table for Cabrera’s homer.

Out of the game: It was a five-run game, but Don Kelly’s running catch in left field to chase down Andrelton Simmons’ drive might have been a game-saver. If that ball bounces off the left-field wall for an RBI double, the tying run is on deck with the top of the Braves order up. And barring a double play, Justin Upton would have had a chance to face closer Jose Valverde.

Strategy: We’ve all seen Valverde in past ninth innings without a save situation. The Braves needed to get one more runner on base to create a save situation for him. Leyland wasn’t waiting for that.

“In the ninth inning, you do what you did because if you’re bringing your closer in, you’re in trouble,” Leyland said. “I mean, we’re in trouble, first and second, nobody out. People might think, ‘Ah, you’ve got a five-run lead.’ Well, this team hits the ball over the fence. All of a sudden, one more single and, boom, one home run and it’s a one-run lead. And all of a sudden, a walk and another home run and you’re behind. I didn’t want to do what I did tonight. I was hoping Alburquerque could get through it, but he couldn’t do it. But he did a great job the inning before.”

Line of the weekend: Infante went 6-for-12 with two doubles, two home runs, four RBIs and five runs scored for the series against one of his former teams.

Stat of the game: 8 — Batters Doug Fister has hit this season, topping his season total from last year.

Print it: “That’s an awful powerful team. We knew coming in that they let it fly. They’re really aggressive. It’s the most aggressive team I’ve seen. And sometimes that bites you, but for the most part, they’re going to score runs because they’re going to hit two- and three-run homers.” — Leyland on the Braves offense

27 Comments

He’s something special….I hope everyone appreciates what we are getting to see in person.
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By the way on a totally different note I hope they don’t allow anymore concerts at Comerica, the grass has never looked the same and looks ghetto! But as long as they pay well on it I guess?

that “play well”

What a weekend – this was the team we were all ready for – help from all parts of the lineup, it was just incredible. Way to go Omar on making up for that error earlier in the game. What fun it is to watch when these guys are on and we have our pitchers just firing on all cylinders.

GK – agreed, our outfield looks terrible, did not realize it is from concerts? I thought it was too early in the season for the fielders to have worn out their spots.

The field has looked like that fr a few years now. They replaced the grass after a big concert a few years ago, but oddley replaced it with a grass that is a different variety do a different color. But whatever it looks bad doesn’t look like the pristine field you uld expect to see at a major league park. Can’t imagine why they would of repaired it that way? Ghetto.

It is amazing how many guys Fister has hit. I get a kick out of how fast Fister works as well, he does not waste any time.

Yea i thought it was a kid rock show that destroyed that grass patch. Or was it all those pigeons? ;) Where are those pigeons anyhow i liked them.
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Hey where is Darin Downs? Toss the kid in there for a few, skip. On a side note, today I am writing Jim for an autograph on a card for my young son, not coincidently named Leyland.
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And who is playing LF on tuesday against Worely? Will Andy be 100% yet?

Don’t think those were pigeons, but I may be wrong. The birds will be back.

He was warming last night.

win 2 of 3 at home, win 1 of 2 on road…that gets a team to 94 wins and an almost certain playoff spot

They are seagulls that invade Comerica for a little bit

We swept the Braves!! Good job men. Turn the page. Get ready for the Twins. Gardy has them ready to get after us. Their best starter pitched Sunday so we miss him this time. We have to knockout the starters. They could beat us in bullpen battles. Go Tigers!!!

helluva weekend for Tigers. I was in attendance Friday night, one of the best games I have seen at Comerica. Sanchez was on fire as well as bats. Hope we can continue to hit with Twins coming in. Mad Max will go to work tonight!

how fun for you on Friday!!

anyone else think Atlanta has too much catching help? McCann, Laird and Gattis…

Gattis played OF in Venezuela. . He did not catch a single game here.

Also – and i’m surprised nobody mentioned it – Jose’s Velocity was 92ish last night (93.2 max velocity) and he didn’t throw any sliders. For his credit he did throw 1st pitch strikes. Hopefully it is just some fatigue from not having a ST; and hopefully the skipper recognizes this and lays off him for a day or two. Downs and Smyly both need work.

When discussing velocity, I always wonder about the devices used to measure it. Wouldn’t they be different from ballpark to ballpark and broadcast to broadcast?

good question i thought noticed brooksbaseball cites different sources after different games (on how the pitches were quantified).

It’s true. I have noticed that the ESPN gun seems to be slower than others.
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— Bob

Not to mention their K zone compared to the on Mlb.tv. None are exactly the same.
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— Bob

Back when, different guns read pitches at different locations ( for example: release point versus plate area), resulting in a fast read or a slow read. I think they all pretty much use similar reads now, so the issue might just be calibration.

I think calibration differences are possible. I usually take differences of 1-2 mph with a grain of salt.
Last night, they showed several live ABs with the box in the picture. Looked like a video game. I was reaching for my gamepad.

I should say a grain of salt from location to location and broadcast to broadcast. In game, the speed is established.

goll dangit someone send me the starting lineup – i’m getting anxious for the game tonight!

Alineación de hoy vs. MIN: Jackson 8, Dirks 7, Cabrera 5, Fielder 3, Martinez DH, Peralta 6, Avila 2, Infante 4, Kelly 9. Scherzer comienza.

@tigresdedetroit

8, 7, 5, 3, DH, 6, 2, 4, 9. No names needed for this number combo!!!! Heavy on LHB.

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