MLB Team Report - Detroit Tigers - INSIDE PITCH
There appear to be two rules managers should follow in pitching to Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera.
Don't throw the defending Triple Crown winner a strike on the first pitch. When Cabrera swings at a first pitch, he's hitting .486 (39-for-80).
Rule No. 1 might be amended, too. Don't make a ball too close to the strike zone.
Cabrera took a high fastball from Kansas City's Bruce Chen, probably an inch or three above the strike zone, and zoomed it into the left field seats for his 40th home run of the season and 13th on a first pitch of an at-bat in a 6-3 Detroit win on Sunday.
The other big rule: don't pitch to Cabrera with runners in scoring position.
Royals manager Ned Yost declined an opportunity to walk Cabrera in the fourth inning Saturday night with a man on third and two out. Double into the right field corner and his 116th RBI of the season. Cabrera ended that game when he led off the ninth inning with a home run that just snuck inside the foul pole, giving Detroit a 6-5 victory.
"He's the best player in all of baseball," Yost said. "You'll find other guys who are more athletic, others who are younger and others who can run faster. But he's the best hitter and with a lot of power.
"He hits in the clutch and he's consistent. He's the best."
Cabrera came up in the third inning Sunday with a runner on second and two out. Single to left center, RBI No. 120. Yost finally walked him intentionally in the fifth, something he doesn't like to do because of Prince Fielder and Victor Martinez.
"I'm totally amazed by what I see," manager Jim Leyland said. "I just can't believe it. I don't want to take it for granted."
Cabrera has been bothered by a combination left hip flexor/abdominal strain since July 23 and Aug. 9 he fouled a ball off his shin and another off his knee -- before touching up Mariano Rivera of the Yankees for a score-tying home run.
Still, he's got a big lead in his bid to become the first right-handed hitter since Rogers Hornsby to win three straight batting titles.
"He's unbelievable. I don't know how to describe it," Leyland said. "In my 50 years in baseball I've never seen anything like it, the combination of what's he's doing and the circumstances under which he's doing it.
"You people can't go in the training room, but I can. So I see what he looks like (while he's getting treatment). It's amazing.
"There's an extra mile to him that I don't think gets recognized. And that's how smart he is. He's got a great feel for what they're trying to do to him.
"Plus he's one of the guys on the team that when I screw up, he knows it."
MLB Team Report - Detroit Tigers - NOTES, QUOTES
STREAK: Won two
PAST 10 GAMES: 5-5
NEXT: Tuesday -- Twins (Mike Pelfrey, 4-10, 5.26) at Tigers (Rick Porcello, 9-6, 4.33)
--C Alex Avila was eligible to come off the seven-day disabled list for concussed players Sunday, but Detroit is taking the conservative road with its regular catcher and he may not be ready when the Tigers start a series Tuesday against the Minnesota Twins. "He feels better," manager Jim Leyland said Sunday, "but there are a lot of things involved. We're definitely changing his mask. He gets hit more than any other catcher I've ever seen, by far."
--RHP Rick Porcello makes his fourth start of the season and 19th of his career Tuesday against Minnesota. Porcello will be looking for his sixth straight win over a span of eight starts when the game begins. He is 1-1 with a 4.15 ERA against the Twins in his three starts this year but 7-5 with a 3.40 ERA for his total of 18 in his career.
--2B Omar Infante was not in Sunday's starting lineup against Kansas City after experiencing lower back stiffness Saturday night and having to come out of the game in the seventh inning. "He'll have this day and Monday off," said manager Jim Leyland, whose team is idle Monday.
--RHP Max Scherzer knows where his bread is buttered -- and where his 18 wins come from. "I can't take credit for 18-1," he said Sunday after getting credit for Detroit's 6-3 win over Kansas City. "Not when the rest of my teammates are doing so much for me." Only two pitchers have had starts equal to or better than Scherzer's at the 18-win mark -- Roger Clemens was also 18-1 in 2001 while Rube Marquard was 18-0 in 1912.
--3B Miguel Cabrera has been a terror when hitting first pitches this season. Cabrera is batting .486 when he puts the first pitch in play after hitting a two-run home run and lining out to left in the first pitch of two of his four trips to the plate. Cabrera has hit 13 of his 40 home runs on the first pitch. "There's an extra mile to him that nobody or not many people give him credit for," manager Jim Leyland said. "That extra mile is he's got a feel for what they're trying to do to him. And he's one of the guys on the team that when I screw up, he knows it."
--RHP Joaquin Benoit wasn't quite as sharp as he normally is in closing out Sunday's 6-3 win over Kansas City. Of course it wasn't a save situation when Benoit entered the game. He gave up a leadoff home run to Billy Butler and a one-out infield single before finishing off the Royals.
--RHP Octavio Dotel (right elbow inflammation) continues to pitch for high Class A Lakeland in his rehab assignment. His most recent outing was in relief after two starts in which his time was programmed. Two of his three outings have been scoreless.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's been pretty good for Old Dad in the Motor City." -- Manager Jim Leyland after 3B Miguel Cabrera and RHP Max Scherzer teamed up to lead his Tigers to a 6-3 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Sunday.
MLB Team Report - Detroit Tigers - ROSTER REPORT
--2B Omar Infante (stiff lower back) had to be pulled from a game Aug. 17 after six innings. He was also held out Aug. 18 but is expected to be ready Aug. 20.
--C Alex Avila (concussion) went on the seven-day disabled list retroactive to Aug. 11.
--RHP Octavio Dotel (right elbow inflammation) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 20, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 8. He began rehab assignment Aug. 7 with Detroit's rookie-level Gulf Coast League affiliate, and he moved to Class A Lakeland on Aug. 12. Detroit wants him to build up some arm strength and work multiple games in a row before he comes back to the Tigers.
--RHP Luis Marte (right shoulder surgery in June 2013) was recalled from Triple-A Toledo and immediately placed on the 15-day disabled list July 31.
RHP Justin Verlander
RHP Max Scherzer
RHP Doug Fister
RHP Rick Porcello
RHP Anibal Sanchez
RHP Joaquin Benoit (closer)
RHP Jose Veras
LHP Drew Smyly
LHP Phil Coke
RHP Bruce Rondon
RHP Al Alburquerque
RHP Jeremy Bonderman
1B Prince Fielder
2B Omar Infante
SS Jose Iglesias
3B Miguel Cabrera
DH Victor Martinez
INF Ramon Santiago
LF Andy Dirks
CF Austin Jackson
RF Torii Hunter
OF Don Kelly
OF Matt Tuiasosopo