May 23rd, 2013

Thursday’s lineups: Tigers vs. Twins

It’s the standard anti-lefty lineup for the Tigers, which means a second consecutive night off for Alex Avila. Brayan Pena actually has fared worse against Scott Diamond (0-for-5 with three strikeouts) than Avila (1-for-3, two strikeouts) has, but it’s a very small sample size. Interesting that a fair number of Detroit’s right-handed hitters haven’t hit Diamond well at all.

One guy who has fared well is Miguel Cabrera, 8-for-16 against him. If he homers tonight, he’ll tie his career-best streak of four consecutive games with a home run, set back in 2004 with the Marlins. If you’re playing Beat the Streak, it’s tough not to pick him between the matchups and the way he’s going.

You can follow the game online via Gameday, watch online through MLB.TV or listen on MLB.com Gameday Audio. Locally, you can watch on Fox Sports Detroit and listen on 97.1 FM AM 1270.

As for the weather forecast … well, considering how off it was last night, let’s just not even get into it.

TIGERS

  1. Omar Infante, 2B (2-for-7, HR off Scott Diamond)
  2. Torii Hunter, RF (1-for-6, 2 K’s off Diamond)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B (8-for-16, HR, 2 K’s off Diamond)
  4. Prince Fielder, 1B (1-for-11, walk, 4 K’s off Diamond)
  5. Victor Martinez, DH (1-for-8 off Diamond)
  6. Jhonny Peralta, SS (3-for-15, 2 walks, K off Diamond)
  7. Matt Tuiasosopo, LF (0-for-2 off Diamond)
  8. Brayan Pena, C (0-for-5, 3 K’s off Diamond)
  9. Avisail Garcia, CF (1-for-5, walk, K off Diamond)

P: Rick Porcello

TWINS

  1. Jamey Carroll, 3B (7-for-19, walk against Rick Porcello)
  2. Joe Mauer, C (7-for-27, 3 walks, 2 K’s against Porcello)
  3. Josh Willingham, LF (6-for-10, HR, 4 walks, K against Porcello)
  4. Justin Morneau, DH (6-for-26, HR, 2 walks, 3 K’s against Porcello)
  5. Ryan Doumit, RF (4-for-10, walk, K against Porcello)
  6. Chris Parmelee, 1B (0-for-2, K against Porcello)
  7. Brian Dozier, 2B (3-for-5, HR against Porcello)
  8. Aaron Hicks, CF (0-for-3 against Porcello)
  9. Pedro Florimon Jr., SS (0-for-2 against Porcello)

P: Scott Diamond

Cabrera’s latest smash hit: The Bourn lunacy

Miguel Cabrera tends to stay humble when he talks about home runs after a game, but his face usually tells the story on the swing. The look on Cabrera’s face as he rounded first base in the eighth inning Wednesday night was genuine surprise. (You can see it on the replay here.)

He did not think he had hit that ball out to center field. Technically, he was right.

“I was surprised,” he said. “I was like so surprised. Wow, that’s the first time that happened to me. It doesn’t happen very often.”

For someone with the power to hit the ball out to all fields, and often with tape-measure distance. That’s saying something.

It was a first for Michael Bourn, too.

“Never had it happen, man,” he said. “I guess they say first time for everything, huh?”

It’s not a first for many Tigers who fans, who remember Miguel Olivo getting a home run off the bounce from Ryan Raburn’s glove in left field two years ago. This was the flip side for them, and because it was Cabrera’s homer for two huge insurance runs, it was that much bigger.

“It’s one of those freak things that happens,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “You see that now and then. You don’t see it that often. That was just a freaky game.”

Cabrera’s four homers over his previous two games included two line drives that carried out to center field. This one off sidearming lefty Rich Hill went out to center, but more on a fly ball that seemingly hung in the air and gained distance.

Bourn had spent most of the evening running down drives all over center and left-center field, stealing at least two extra-base hits in the process to slow the Tigers offense a bit. He had Cabrera’s fly ball lined up better than any of those, and had seemingly timed his reach — not even a jump so much as a reach.

“I watched it,” Cabrera said. “I said he got it and then the last time I looked back, it wasn’t the same.”

Bourn was direct about it.

“I just missed it,” Bourn said. “There wasn’t no excuses. I had my balance, I was good and it just came out of my glove.”

That’s the thing. The ball was right in Bourn’s glove before it popped out. It wasn’t much of a deflection.

“I don’t know how it came outta there,” Bourn said, “but it did. And then it bounced over the wall. That’s the thing about it. I could see if it stayed in play, but it went over the wall. It happened.”

The look when Cabrera realized it was over the wall resembled a game-show contestant who wins a prize on a lucky guess. He was still smiling in the dugout about it as he recreated the swing.

“I thought it was an out there,” Cabrera said. “I was very lucky there. It’s better to be lucky than good.”

Considering he’s a home run away from leading all three of the Triple Crown categories again says he’s pretty good, too. Only Baltimore’s Chris Davis, with 14 home runs, has more than Cabrera’s 13 among American League hitters. His 52nd RBI put him 11 up on the next AL competitor, also Davis.

It also marked the 10th time in Cabrera’s career that he has homered in three consecutive games. If he can homer Thursday against the Twin, he’ll tie his career-best four-game homer streak set April 10-14, 2004 as a Florida Marlin.

 

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