Baseball Notebook: Miguel Cabrera’s nights may end early for the Tigers


Miguel Cabrera, who scored the only run in Game 1, was pulled in the eighth inning Saturday night. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
October 13, 2013

For so much of the season, Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera was by far the top offensive player in all of baseball. A Triple Crown winner in 2012, he threatened for much of the summer to repeat that feat before settling for the batting crown and finishing second in both homers and RBI.

Cabrera’s slow September, when he managed just two extra-base hits, can be directly tied to a groin injury that’s bothering him in the American League Championship Series. In Saturday night’s 1-0 victory over the Boston Red Sox, Cabrera went 1 for 3 with a hard single, a walk and the only run, but he moved gingerly around the bases. In the eighth, Manager Jim Leyland removed him for Ramon Santiago.

Leyland could remove Cabrera again throughout the series if his team holds a lead, even a narrow lead, in the late innings.

“I wasn’t comfortable doing that, particularly in this ballpark with a 1-0 lead,” Leyland said. “We know we’re handicapped a little bit because of our situation [with Cabrera’s health]. The biggest key in that situation was the two guys that they had coming up to lead off that inning were [Shane] Victorino and [Dustin] Pedroia. Both are excellent baseball players, both smart. Victorino could have dropped a bunt down on Miggy. Pedroia could have dropped a bunt on Miggy. We felt like that was the best way to go.”

The Tigers have four postseason wins, and Cabrera has been removed in the eighth or ninth innings of all of them. He played the entire game Sunday night. . . .

Both managers tweaked their lineups for Game 2. Leyland moved Jhonny Peralta — Game 1’s offensive hero with a 3-for-4 performance that featured two doubles and the game’s only RBI — from left field to shortstop, his traditional position, and benched defensive whiz Jose Iglesias. That put the left-handed-hitting Don Kelly in left field against right-hander Clay Buchholz.

“This guy is a bona fide major league shortstop,” Leyland said of Peralta. “This is not a utility guy you’re playing there. This is a top-notch shortstop.”

Boston Manager John Farrell removed first baseman Mike Napoli, who was 1 for 13 against Game 2 starter Max Scherzer, and replaced him with Mike Carp (2 for 8 with five strikeouts against Scherzer). Jonny Gomes played left in place of Daniel Nava, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, the regular starting catcher, went back behind the plate after David Ross started Game 1. . . .

Saturday’s Game 1 took 3 hours 56 minutes, the longest 1-0 game in postseason history.

Ramirez’s status in question

The Los Angeles Dodgers were awaiting results of a CT scan on shortstop Hanley Ramirez’s rib cage after Ramirez reported continued discomfort in the area despite X-rays that came back negative Saturday. Given the state of the Dodgers’ offense, it is a diagnosis that could hold the team’s fate in the balance.

Ramirez was held out of Saturday’s Game 2 of the NLCS after being drilled in the ribs by a fastball from St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Joe Kelly in Game 1 on Friday night. He said after Game 2 — and told reporters again Sunday — that he intends to play in Monday’s Game 3 at Dodger Stadium, but he acknowledged the lingering pain.

“No matter how much Hanley wants to play, there are certain [injuries] you’re not going to be able to play with,” Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly said. “You’ve got to be able to swing the bat.”

When healthy, Ramirez has carried the Dodgers’ offense at times this season, hitting .345 with a 1.040 on-base plus slugging percentage in 86 games (he missed time with thumb, hamstring and back injuries), then hitting .500 with six extra-base hits and six RBI in the Dodgers’ win over the Atlanta Braves in the division series.

The Dodgers were without Ramirez and outfielders Andre Ethier (day to day with an ankle injury) and Matt Kemp (out since September with ankle and shoulder injuries) on Sunday. Their offense has sputtered without some of their top run-producers, hitting just .184 in the series, including a .063 mark (1 for 16) with runners in scoring position.

“If Hanley’s not playing and Andre’s not playing and Matt’s not in there, we’re obviously not going not going to be the club that we can be,” Mattingly said. “[But] it’s just not a time for excuses. . . . We’ve got 25 guys. We’re a team. We’ve got to find a way to be able to do it with Hanley or without Hanley.”

Barry Svrluga is the national baseball writer for The Washington Post.
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