Miguel Cabrera Can’t Do it Alone


The Detroit Tigers lost the opening game of a three game set to the Texas Rangers today in large part because the hitters couldn’t solve the Rangers’ pitching. While Justin Verlander was tremendous today, Rangers right hander Alexi Ogando was perhaps a little bit better. The game was scoreless through six frames before Texas touched up Verlander for a pair of runs in the seventh. Ogando lasted through the seventh inning himself, yielding only two hits and a walk while striking out four.

Those two hit Ogando allowed were a line drive single to right by Miguel Cabrera to lead off the second, and a double to left that put runners at second and third with just one out in the fifth. The Tigers couldn’t capitalize on that opportunity, however, because Cabrera was doubled-off on a shallow pop-fly off the bat of Victor Martinez. I don’t know if he didn’t get a good read on the ball or if he forgot how many outs there were, but the Tigers wasted their last best chance right there.

In fact, Detroit didn’t get another two-baserunner inning until the bottom of the ninth. With two away already, Ryan Raburn fouled off a series of pitches to work the count full against Neftali Feliz. Raburn lined a double up the right-centerfield gap to bring the tying run to the plate in the person of Cabrera himself. Cabrera came into the game with success against Feliz, having homered off him a season ago. Today, he wouldn’t get the chance. The Rangers opted to walk Cabrera intentionally and bring the winning run to the plate in Victor Martinez. Last season, this move would have been a no-brainer, but VMart was signed to take advantage of situations where the opposition pitched around the big man. VMart has done so a couple of times already this year, but this was the first time Cabrera has been intentionally walked to get to Martinez.

It wasn’t to be on this day, however. Martinez worked the count to 2-0, but Feliz dropped a two-seamer on the outside edge that got Martinez to roll over on an easy ground ball to second, ending the game.

The Tigers managed only four hits all day (the other being an Austin Jackson single in the eighth) and the much vaunted offense continues to be lacking any real thump. Brennan Boesch reached base via a walk today, but his free-fall is evident to all but Jim Leyland, apparently. Will Rhymes hasn’t hit all year thus far and neither has Magglio Ordonez, who took another 0-for-3 before leaving the game, still dealing with a tender right ankle.

We are only 10 games in, I keep reminding myself, but these 10 games haven’t been pretty. The Tigers simply must find ways to win games when they get performances such as the one given today by Verlander. So far this year, those kind of outings haven’t happened all that often. They aren’t hitting nearly enough to offset the pitching woes and they aren’t hitting enough when they do get good pitching, either.

Cabrera has been tremendous so far this year, hitting better than .380 and leading the club in homers and RBI, but he cannot do it alone. The offseason was spent adding Martinez and re-upping with Ordonez, Brandon Inge, and Jhonny Peralta. this lineup was supposed to be better than the one that hobbled the Tigers to a .500 record last year, when their starting pitching looked much stronger, especially early in the year. It hasn’t happened that way so far.

I know it’s only April and there is a lot of baseball left to be played. If this is the way they’re going to play it, however, I cringe at the thought of 152 more games. You cannot win the pennant in the season’s first month, but you can surely dig yourself a deep enough hole to lose the thing. The Tigers, with their spotty-at-best pitching and their feeble offensive attack, are doing their best to do just that.

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