When “go on contact” turned into gridlock on basepaths
Watch the video clip of the double play that ended the seventh inning, and you’ll see a notable sight in the bottom right-hand corner. As first baseman Joe Mauer touches first base, spots Miguel Cabrera off second and fires there, Victor Martinez — who hit the fateful ground ball — sees the same thing. As the confusion becomes apparent, Martinez throws up his arms in frustration.
It not only summed up the play, but the game as a whole, the night, and the series in general. Somewhere along the path of the Tigers’ roll through Minnesota on their way to Kansas City, the Tigers tripped up. Wednesday’s double play, as well as Tuesday’s ill-fated diving attempt by Ezequiel Carrera, will be the lasting images.
At first glance, the double play looks like a miscue by Cabrera, caught too far off second base as Martinez grounds out and Torii Hunter stays at third. Another look, however, shows Hunter not breaking home on a ground ball where the Twins were pretty much conceding the run.
“The first baseman started in and moved back,” Brad Ausmus said. “Torii saw that. He initially was not going. He was going on contact to any of the other three positions in the infield except for the first baseman, because Mauer had been up. But then he backed up, and I think it just caused confusion.”
It was a cautious move on Hunter’s part, not wanting to squander an opportunity with an out at home plate. His reaction, however, left Cabrera out to dry.
Said Mauer: “Everything was in front of me. Victor hit it pretty good. So I just tried to make sure I fielded it first. I think Torii saw I could throw home. So I went to first for the out, but could’ve thrown home if needed. And then I saw Cabrera off, and so it was a good double play.”
Hunter took responsibility for the action.
“I got two steps right there, you have to make sure that you’re safe for sure at home. I didn’t want him to throw the ball and I’m out at home. That would’ve looked worse. I just took a jump and probably got Miggy off in no-mans land. I accept that — full responsibility. I misled him. It’s my fault.”
Cabrera did not appear immediately after the game for comment.