Thursday, October 13, 2011
Two grounders, two different results
By Jeff Caplan
DETROIT -- Two grounders to third base, one in the top half of the sixth inning and one in the bottom, changed the complexion of Game 5. The only explanation plausible belongs to Rangers manager Ron Washington's mantra: That's how baseball go.
"When the ball was hit, I said double play," Washington said. "[It] hit the bag. They caught a break."
Adrian Beltre had a few words for Miguel Cabrera after the Detroit Tigers' first baseman scored in the sixth inning one batter after his grounder to third went airborne and skipped into left field.
"He said I was lucky," Cabrera said. "I said, 'Yeah, I was lucky.'"
Cabrera doubled for the fourth consecutive game in this suddenly tightened-up ALCS, but his grounder down the third-base line got a little help from the third-base bag. As Beltre crouched to corral it with a double-play in his sights, the ball crashed into the bag, caromed straight up and looped over Beltre's head and down the line into left field.
Ryan Raburn scored all the way from first and Cabrera stood on second with a gift double. Moments later, he scored on Victor Martinez's poke into the right-field corner that fell just out of the reach of a diving Nelson Cruz for a 4-2 lead.
What did Cabrera, now with six hits in the series to go with seven walks and five RBIs, think of his double?
"I was lucky, I was lucky," Cabrera said. "But like I say, it's better to be lucky than good."
Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler sure thinks so.
In the top half of the sixth, he came up with an opportunity to snap a 2-2 tie with runners on first and second and one out. He stung Justin Verlander's first pitch, a 99 mph fastball -- one pitch after Verlander had walked Mitch Moreland on four pitches -- down the third-base line.
Brandon Inge, playing the line, gobbled it up, stepped on the bag and turned the inning-killing double-play.
"I think it's unlucky that the ball hit the bag, but that's the way it went tonight," said Kinsler, fully expecting to make the catch-and-turn for a sure-fire double-play. "I got a pitch that I wanted to swing at and I hit it to the third baseman."