Cabrera smacks his 600th double but Astros beat Tigers with 8th-inning rally
Houston – It looked like another Miguel Cabrera milestone moment might spark something for the Tigers.
Cabrera on Saturday lined a double down the left-field line, scoring a pair of runs in the second inning. It was his 600th career double. Only three players in major league history have accumulated 3,000 hits, 500 home runs and 600 doubles: Hank Aaron, Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera.
Those two runs, though, were all they got and the Astros rallied for two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to beat the Tigers for the third straight game, 3-2 at Minute Maid Park.
"Miggy is making history and we are following along," Tigers manager AJ Hinch said. "Every day we have to remind ourselves, we're seeing historical things with him and we're enjoying it. But I know he wants to enjoy it in wins."
There was no milestone celebration after this one and Cabrera was certainly in no mood to talk about his own personal achievement following the third straight 3-2 loss and the fourth straight loss overall.
"We're going to show up tomorrow ready to play, ready to win," Hinch said. "You don't want to drag this into the next day. It's not productive. It's not good to be angry. We're obviously frustrated but we need to compartmentalize it and try to come out of here with a win."
Tigers starter and ace Eduardo Rodriguez made those two runs hold up through seven innings. But in the eighth, against reliever Michael Fulmer, Michael Brantley ripped an RBI triple into the corner in right to tie the score.
With two outs and Brantley still on third, Hinch issued an intentional walk to left-handed hitting Yordan Alvarez. Fulmer then walked Yuli Gurriel to load the bases and Kyle Tucker to force in the go-ahead run.
"You are going to have these days," said Fulmer, who hadn't allowed a run in his previous 21 straight outings. "It just sucks. We're on a skid like this and everybody else does their job except me. It's just tough. I tried to get back in the zone, tried to make adjustments. Obviously, I didn't make them."
Fulmer had walked just two batters in 10 innings before Saturday.
"I just kept yanking everything," said Fulmer, who walked the right-handed hitting Gurriel on four pitches, all low and away and the left-handed hitting Tucker, missing inside and down — all the pitches pulled to his glove side.
Even the pitch Brantley hit was a slider down and in.
"I tried to go back door (away)," Fulmer said. "It ended up being in a decent spot, but you don't want to try to throw that pitch down and in to him. I had no feel for my fastball so I tried to throw sliders and every single one was yanked.
"No excuses. I just didn't have it today."
The intentional walk is not a strategy Hinch deploys much. In fact, since 2018, he'd issued just 15 of them. Over his career, his intentional walk percentage is 0.5. He explained why he put the left-handed hitting Alvarez on in the eighth.
"The potential winning run was already on third base so the guy on first doesn't really matter," he said. "So you get to pick and choose what hitter you want to face. Both Yordan and Yuli are good hitters but Yordan (.269, 8 homers, 15 RBIs this season) is hitting a little better than Yuli (.202, no homers, 5 RBIs) right now.
"And Yuli usually hits the ball on the ground and Michael is good at getting right-handers to hit it on the ground. He just didn't throw it over the plate."
The Tigers, who have averaged just 2.25 runs over the last 13 games, scratched 11 hits, but they couldn't deliver the big blow. They were 1 for 16 with runners in scoring position, leaving nine on the bases.
"I can't complain about our offensive approach," Hinch said. "It was probably the best offensive approach we've had against a really good pitcher (lefty Framber Valdez) all season. We took what he gave us, didn't try to do too much.
"Obviously you want to tack on (runs) when you can."
It was the Tigers' 11th loss in their last 13 games.
"It's tough to win right now," Hinch said. "We are having a hard time putting it all together. Our bullpen has been exceptional all season. Michael has been exceptional all season. It's tough to describe. Tough loss."
Shame, too, to waste Rodriguez's best start in a Tigers uniform.
Relying heavily on his four-seam fastball, sinker and cutter, he breezed through the Astros lineup. The only blemish was a first-pitch change-up that Jose Altuve ambushed and hit into the Crawford boxes above the wall in left field.
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"All my pitches were working today," said Rodriguez, who struck out eight, getting 12 swings and misses and 17 called strikes. "Even the pitch to Altuve was the right pitch. I just missed it right in the middle of the plate. I felt like everything was working really well."
Left-handed hitters have bedeviled him in his previous starts: 9 for 19 with five doubles and two home runs. The Astros started three lefties against him — Brantley, Alvarez and Tucker. They were a combined 0-for-6 with three walks and three strikeouts.
"Mistakes," he said. "The last couple of games against lefties I miss with my change-up over the plate. If you fix your mistakes you are going to do well. That's what I tried to do today."
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