The following conversation obviously has not taken place among American League managers. “How’d you do with your intentional walk to Miguel Cabrera?” “Not so good. I think it must have upset Prince Fielder.” It happened again, you know. In a game the Tigers eventually won 4-0 on Friday night against the Minnesota Twins, there was no score in the sixth when the Twins picked the wrong poison. With Austin Jackson on second and two outs, they walked Cabrera on purpose, even though he was hitless against lefty starter Scott Diamond and Fielder had doubled in his previous at-bat. Bad idea for the Twins. Turning point for the Tigers — who, among other reasons to smile, were happy to have Jackson (0-for-3) back from a month-long stint on the DL. “He’s rusty,” said manager Jim Leyland, “but he’ll get back in the swing of things.” With a liner to right that pointed Rick Porcello (4-3) toward a well-deserved victory, Fielder not only doubled in both runners, but ignited a flurry of doubles – three in a row, to be exact. Victor Martinez doubled in Fielder. Jhonny Peralta doubled in Martinez. All five of the Tigers’ hits, in fact, were doubles. “We did a pretty good job when Diamond finally made some mistakes,” Leyland said. “He was off the center of the plate until we scored. After that, we jumped him.” And with Porcello blanking the Twins for seven innings on three hits, that was pretty much that: Inning, set, match — complete with a scoreless, but not entirely smooth ninth in a non-save situation from Jose Valverde, who walked and hit a batter. But here’s what might start getting around from team to team. While pitching to Cabrera is no treat — he went into the game with the best batting average in the majors by far (.493) with runners in scoring position — walking him, whether intentionally or not, appears to be worse. These are the stats to prove it. Fielder is 12-for-19 with two walks and 16 RBIs in his last 21 plate appearances following any kind of walk to Cabrera. “In general, Prince has done a terrific job of making teams pay,” Leyland said. It can be a lethal situation for a pitcher either way, but what a luxury it is for the Tigers. They have either the best hitter with runners in scoring position at the plate at a pivotal moment or they have a guy at the plate hitting .632 whenever their best hitter is walked. That’s what decided this game — the either/or of walking Cabrera. That and the way Porcello pitched. Porcello and Diamond came into the game as starters headed in opposite directions. Porcello was 3-1 with a 3.27 ERA and a .222 batting-average-against in his last eight starts. With the victory, that became 4-1 with a 2.84 in his last nine.
Tigers double up on Twins to open series on winning note
Detroit News | Jun 15