Leading MLB in batting average and RBIs, a visibly pained Cabrera pulled himself out of the game with one out in the bottom of the fifth. No word on the true severity of the injury, but the Tigers did announce Cabrera was day-to-day with a sore left hip flexor. The reigning AL MVP and Triple Crown winner will be re-evaluated on Tuesday.
Cabrera had this to say about his injury:
#Tigers Cabrera: "Felt weird (walking off the field), but I have to take care of myself."— Tom Gage (@Tom_Gage) July 23, 2013
Torii Hunter believes discretion should be the better part of valor when it comes to the Tigers' meal ticket.
Torii Hunter about #Tigers Cabrera (sore left hip flexor): "If he misses a couple of games so we can have him in the long run, that's fine."— Tom Gage (@Tom_Gage) July 23, 2013
Scherzer's win streak was snapped at 13 in his last start before the break, the All-Star Game starter (14-1) began a new streak by beating the White Sox. Scherzer pitched eight innings, giving up four hits and two runs, striking out five.
White Sox starter Chris Sale (6-9) was victimized by a lack of run support, something of which he's become accustomed. Tonight was no different for the White Sox's ace. Sale allowed four runs, but only two earned, on seven hits, striking out 11 over eight innings. The Tigers tacked on three ninth inning runs off Ramon Troncoso in the ninth. Of the seven runs allowed by White Sox pitching, five were unearned, thanks to three errors.
Victor Martinez started hitting a month ago and hasn't stopped. The Tigers' DH once again led the offense with four hits and three RBIs. Hunter added a pair of hits, including a solo home run, scoring twice. Held to five hits, the only White Sox offense was supplied via solo home runs off the bats of Dayan Viciedo and Conor Gillaspie.
Scherzer was brilliant, winning his 14th game of season. Martinez is hitting like it's 2011 all over again. Regardless, the story of the game has to be Cabrera's hip injury. There's been no more word from the Tigers are to the status of their superstar, but losing the best hitter in baseball for any length of time will be a huge blow to a team built to win now.
Top of two, the Tigers scratched together the first threat of the night against Chris Sale with a pair of singles. Still hot with the bat, Victor Martinez singled to center with one out. Two down, the also still hot with the bat Matt Tuiasosopo singled. Last night Brayan Pena came through with a pair of sacrifice flies with runners in scoring position. Tonight, Pena struck out swinging to end the threat.
Third inning, the Tigers broke through against Sale to take the lead with a two out rally. Torii Hunter singled, advanced to second on a walk to Miguel Cabrera and scored on Prince Fielder's RBI single through the right side.
Lesson learned - (Un)intentionally Walk Miguel Cabrera at your peril. This time around it resulted in the Tigers taking a 1-0 advantage.
Given a lead, Max Scherzer did nothing different. All he did throw his third straight shutdown inning, having retired nine straight White Sox through three.
The pitcher's duel continued, Sale and Scherzer tossing 1-2-3 fourth innings.
Hernan Perez reached on Alexei Ramírez's E-6 in the fifth, allowing a ground ball to go right though the wickets. Perez stole second (A Tiger steals a base? That's unpossible!), taking third on a ground ball. First base open, the White Sox elected to intentionally walk Cabrera in order to get the lefty-lefty match up on Fielder. Or the White Sox may have preferred to pitch to Martinez. Sale avoided Fielder as well, loading the bases with a four pitch walk.
The strategy backfired (Not surprising, Martinez is hitting over .400 for July) big time. Martinez reached out and slapped a two strike ground ball back up the middle for a two RBI single. Perez and Cabrera scored to give the Tigers a 3-0 lead.
Before the bottom half of the inning, Tigers trainer Kevin Rand visited with Cabrera in the field. All seemed well, Cabrera starting the inning stationed at third.
Scherzer's no-hit bid ended with one down in the bottom of the fifth. Adam Dunn beat the shift with a ground ball single to left. But more importantly, Cabrera pulled himself out of the game with an unidentified injury, replaced by Don Kelly.
Tigers Nation went into a collective panic as Scherzer ended the inning, stranding Dunn at second. Later on it was announced Cabrera left the game with a hip flexor.
Miguel Cabrera left tonight's game with a sore left hip flexor muscle. #Tigers— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) July 23, 2013
Bottom of six, the White Sox got on the board with just their second hit of the game. Dayan Viciedo took a 3-2 Scherzer fastball the opposite way, clearing the right field wall for a lead off solo home run. Viciedo's eighth homer of the season cut the Tigers' lead to 3-1.
After the big fly, the White Sox started to make Scherzer work. The sixth was his first 20 plus pitch inning of the night. But on Scherzer's 21st pitch of the sixth, Ramirez bounced into an 6-3 twin killing. The Tigers headed into the seventh with a 3-1 lead and Scherzer in line for win number 14.
Before the White Sox could think about a late rally, Sale gave the run right back with one out in the top of the seventh. Hunter laced a breaking ball to deep right, Alex Rios climbing the fence but unable reach the big fly. Hunter's fence clearing solo blast was his eighth home run of the season, increasing the Tigers' lead to 4-1 (MLB.com video).
Sale and Scherzer were still dueling into the eighth. The White Sox got a run back in the bottom of the eighth, pulling within two runs on their second solo homer of the night. Conor Gillaspie cleared the right field fence for his eighth home run of the season. After a visit from Jim Lelyand, Scherzer ended the inning without further incident.
Ramon Troncoso replaced Sale on the mound in the ninth. The White Sox proceeded to show why they are in last place, gifting the Tigers a pair of unearned insurance runs (and an earned run too!).
Pena led off with a single to left. Called on to lay down a sacrifice, Perez instead reached base on Troncoso's fielding error. Jackson at the plate with a runner in scoring position, he was also looking to bunt. When pulled back on his first attempt, Phegley fired to Ramirez covering second, throwing behind a now picked off Pena. The White Sox should have had Pena dead to to rights, but Ramirez, the MLB leader in errors, flung the ball into the camera well. The throwing error allowed Pena to score the Tigers' fifth run.
Jackson compounded the White Sox misery by doubling into the left field corner, Perez crossing the plate to make it a 6-2 game.
Ex-Tiger David Purcey took over for Troncoso. After wild pitching Jackson to third and walking Fielder, Martinez reached base for the fourth time, dropping a bloop RBI single in center, upping the lead to 7-2. The ninth inning had turned into a laffer, the Tigers having scored three runs, only one earned, on three hits, two errors, a wild pitch and a walk.
To be blunt, circus music (or Yakkity Sax) should have been playing at the Cell in the top of the ninth.
The bottom of the ninth no longer a save situation, Joaquin Benoit took a seat as Phil Coke was handed the ball to face the left-handed De Aza. Coke did his job as a LOOGY, getting the first out. Right-handed bats due up, Leyland made the call for Bruce Rondon.
Rondon made rookie mistakes. He allowed a two out double to Rios, wild pitched him to third and balked him home. shaking off the run, Rondon finally put the White Sox out of their misery by throwing a 101 MPH fastball by Dunn.
GAME OVER. Your final score is Tigers 7, White Sox 3.
It was a solid win over a team the Tigers should dominate, even with Sale on the mound. Before you feel down about Cabrera (and his injury could end up being relatively minor), remember this. The Tigers still have 15 games to play against this same White Sox team which can't do much of anything right.
The Tigers reach the ten games over .500 mark for the eighth time in 2013, raising their record to 54-44. For the time being, the Tigers increase their lead in the Central to two games over the Indians. The Tribe are out west, starting a three game series with the Mariners as the Tigers were ending their game tonight.
The second of four games in Chicago features the reinstated from MLB suspension Rick Porcello (6-6, 4.80 ERA) taking on left-hander Hector Santiago (3-5, 3.30 ERA). In posting three consecutive quality starts, Porcello is 2-1, 2.84. Since being moved into the White Sox rotation in May, Santiago is 3-3, 3.13 in 12 games. First pitch at the Cell is scheduled for 8:10 PM.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
The Tigers turned an oh-so-very-common 3-4-1 putout in the second inning. The shift on for Mr. Three True Outcomes, Adam Dunn, Hernan Perez was stationed in short right field. Dunn smoked a hard one-hopper to right, which glanced off the glove of a diving Prince Fielder. Perez was in position to both make the play and fire a perfect throw from right, nicely leading Max Scherzer to the bag to nip Dunn at first.
Scherzer received more defensive help from Perez in the fourth, the rookie second baseman completing a slick 1-4-3 putout on a deflected ground ball off the bat of Alejandro De Aza. Good defense, what a concept!
Austin Jackson is in a slump, and as such, snake bit. He was robbed of base hits in the first and third innings. Dayan Viciedo's diving catch in left snatched a hit away in the first. Dunn took extra bases away from Jackson in the third with a lunging grab. In the fifth inning, Jackson hit a fly ball to deep right center which died a valiant death at the warning track. Jackson could easily have started the game 3-for-3, but had an oh-fer-3 instead. Baseball is a mean mistress, though she did cut him some slack. Jackson avoided a hitless night with a ninth inning RBI double
Odd sabermetric stat of the night, via Rogo:
Prince Fielder entered today in 9th of Tigers position players in WAR (0.9). Behind Dirks, Tuiasosopo, and Kelly. Yikes.— Scott Rogowski (@DNR_Rogo) July 23, 2013
That would be fWAR, by the way. Ahead of Fielder in fWAR are Miguel Cabrera (6), Jhonny Peralta (2.7), Omar Infante (2.4), Austin Jackson (2.1), Torii Hunter (1.5), Andy Dirks (1.3), Matt Tuiasosopo (1.1) and Don Kelly (1). For what it's worth, last in fWAR on the Tigers is Ramon Santiago at -0.6,
Coming into tonight, Victor Martinez has not hit well with the bases loaded.
VMart had been 1-for-11 with the bases loaded (with 9 RBI), but just 0-for-6 with two outs and the bases loaded. #Tigers— Matthew B. Mowery (@matthewbmowery) July 23, 2013
Make it 1-for-7 with two RBIs after his fifth inning single.
MIGUEL CABRERA LEFT THE GAME WITH AN INJURY IN THE FIFTH.
Miguel Cabrera is done. He leaves the game and heads into the tunnel. His left hip is clearly still an issue.— James Schmehl (@jamesschmehl) July 23, 2013
Cue up the DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM.
SHIT MIGGY'S HURT WE'RE DOOMED— BYB Rob (@Detroit4lyfeRob) July 23, 2013
Dan: "the Tiger nation holds its collective breath"— Katie G. (@katieg1975) July 23, 2013
Miguel— Allison Marie (@norunsupport) July 23, 2013
Cabrera left the field under his own power with trainer Kevin Rand. Replays showed Cabrera tweaked something while running the bases in the top of the fifth, which was later diagnosed as a sore left hip flexor.
Another odd double play took place in the eighth. Martinez running on the pitch, Matt Tuiasosopo struck out swinging, losing his balance and crossing over into the path of catcher Josh Phegley. The resulting off-target throw hit Martinez, who was called out on catcher's interference by Tuiasosopo. It was a strike 'em out, get in his way out.
Max Scherzer: Another excellent outing for Scherzer, allowing just four hits in eight innings.
Victor Martinez: First four hit game of the season has Martinez hitting .425 in July and .270 on the season.
Torii Hunter: We saw bad Torii last night, but good Torii returned tonight with two hits, one a home run.
Jim Leyland: That's how you use Phil Coke!
Miguel Cabrera's hip: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! (catches breath) NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!
EVERYONE PANIC!!! OK, let's hold off on the doom for the time being, at least until we know more. A few days off might take care of Cabrera's hip flexor issue. And who better to play without your best hitter than the last place White Sox?
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There were several deserving candidates, but Doug Fister's quality start pushed him over the top in the PotG vote with 70%.