Dazzling Dozen: Cruz throws out Cabrera

November, 17, 2011
11/17/11
12:00
AM CT
Memorable plays during a season aren't always tremendous blasts or impressive pitching performances. Sometimes they are great defensive plays.

No. 7: Nelson Cruz nails Miguel Cabrera at home plate in Game 4 of the AL Championship Series

[+] EnlargeNelson Cruz
AP Photo/Duane BurlesonNelson Cruz threw out Miguel Cabrera at home plate in the eighth inning to keep the game tied.
Cruz had one of the greatest single series by a player in history in the ALCS. He ended up with six homers and 13 RBIs, the first player to ever have that many homers and runs driven in during one postseason series. But he also made some key plays with his glove and arm. And the throw he made against the Tigers in Comerica Park in Game 4 was one of the biggest.

The Rangers and Tigers were tied at 3 in eighth inning of Game 4. Texas held a 2-1 lead in the series and was desperately trying to prevent the Tigers from winning a second straight game and evening the best-of-7 affair. With Miguel Cabrera at third base representing the go-ahead run, Delmon Young hit a fly ball that wasn't particularly deep to right.

Cruz caught the ball close to the right-field line. Cabrera headed home as soon as it was caught. Cruz rifled a one-hop throw to catcher Mike Napoli, who had time to catch it and turn to get ready for the collision at the plate. Napoli absorbed the hit and held onto the ball, keeping the game tied.

"You've got to go, you've got to take a shot to win right there," said Michael Young, who was playing first base and watched Cruz's throw sail over his head. "If Nellie's throw is off by four feet he sneaks in there."

It was a momentum-building double play, too. The Rangers got another big throw in the 10th when Napoli gunned down Austin Jackson trying to steal second base.

What it meant: The game stayed tied on the road, allowing the Rangers to get some more chances to win it. It took 11 innings, but Napoli's single in the top of the 11th scored Josh Hamilton (who had doubled) with the go-ahead run. And Cruz then put it out of reach with a three-run homer for a 7-3 win.

The aftermath: Texas took a 3-1 lead in the series and despite losing Game 5, the team headed back home with a 3-2 lead. They finished things off by pounding the Tigers in Game 6 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington with 15 runs in a 10-run victory.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Adrian Beltre
BA HR RBI R
.322 18 71 77
OTHER LEADERS
HRA. Beltre 18
RBIA. Beltre 71
RA. Beltre 77
OPSA. Beltre .874
WC. Lewis 10
ERAC. Lewis 5.12
SOY. Darvish 182