He also knew it set up a great chance for him to end this marathon game.
Kelly took advantage of it, singling in the go-ahead run to start a four-run 14th inning and the Tigers beat the Houston Astros 7-3 Thursday night.
The Tigers tied it in the eighth with help from right-fielder Rick Ankiel's error.
Austin Jackson led off the 14th with a ground-rule double. Jackson advanced to third on a groundout by Torii Hunter before the intentional walks to Cabrera and Fielder to load the bases.
''Those are the opportunities that you want,'' Kelly said. ''If I'm managing in the other dugout, I'm walking Miggy and Prince, too.''
''That's a smart move,'' he added.
But it didn't work out for the Astros.
Kelly's dribbling grounder to right field scored Jackson and chased Dallas Keuchel (0-1), who came in to start the 10th. Matt Tuiasosopo's two-run double made it 6-3 before Detroit added a run on a sacrifice fly by Jhonny Peralta.
''We got quite a few hits and we weren't doing much with them for a while but we finally broke loose and got some big ones,'' said manager Jim Leyland of his team's 15 hits. ''Donnie, that's his third big hit off left-handers recently so that's a good thing to see. We stranded a lot of guys but we hung in there and got a couple of big ones finally.''
Luke Putkonen (1-0), who was called up from Triple-A on Thursday, allowed no hits in the last 2 1-3 innings for the win in a game that took 4 hours, 50 minutes.
Leyland raved about his bullpen.
''They did a great job,'' he said. ''Everybody that came out of there did a fantastic job. That's what we had to do because when you're on the road particularly and you don't get the last at-bat, you've got your back against the wall.''
Jason Castro had a two-run homer in first and Carlos Pena added a solo shot in the fourth to give Houston a 3-2 lead.
It was Houston's first extra-inning game of the season and comes after the team arrived from a road trip in New York at about 3 a.m. Thursday.
Detroit had a runner at third with one out in the 13th, but Keuchel retired the next two to end the threat.
Both teams hit a single in a scoreless 12th.
The Tigers had a shot to win it in the 11th. Matt Tuiasosopo drew a walk with two outs and Peralta followed with a single to shallow right field. Pinch-hitter Brayan Pena singled to right field, but Ankiel made a perfect throw home to allow Jason Castro to tag Tuiasosopo out.
The Tigers tied it at 3 when Victor Martinez singled to right field with two outs in the eighth inning. Ankiel couldn't corral the ball and then slipped throwing it in for an error that allowed Fielder to score from first and Martinez to reach second.
The 5-foot-11, 275-pound Fielder, certainly not known for his speed, chugged around the bases and slid into home before bouncing up and leaping into the air.
''It was unfortunate that Ankiel didn't field the ball cleanly and make the throw,'' Houston manager Bo Porter said. ''Fielder probably would not have scored from first had we executed that play. But I felt like we did the right thing.''
Fielder got on when he was plunked in the arm by Wesley Wright.
This series is Detroit's second trip to Minute Maid Park and the first since June 2009. It is the start of a season-long, 10-game homestand for Houston.
Houston struck out 18 times. Detroit pitchers have struck out 10 or more batters in each of their last seven games, which extends an American League record, said the Tigers, citing information from the Elias Sports Bureau.
But Houston's staff also struck out plenty of Detroit batters, finishing with 18. It was the most strikeouts by an Astros staff since also getting 18 on July 6, 2008 at Atlanta, and tied for the third most in franchise history.
Detroit starter Rick Porcello struck out seven with five hits and three runs in a season-high seven innings.
Rookie Robbie Grossman hit a leadoff double before the homer by Castro, to the Crawford Boxes in left field, put Houston up 2-0 in the first.
Hunter had a run-scoring single in the third. Cabrera then collected his 1,000th hit as a Tiger with a line drive that sailed over the head of Houston starter Jordan Lyles and into the outfield for an RBI single which tied it 2-all.
Pena put Houston back on top 3-2 with his one-out first-pitch homer to the Crawford Boxes in the fourth inning.
Pena bunted to start Houston's seventh and reached on an error by Porcello when he overthrew first base. Pena, who at 34 is Houston's oldest player, then made a baserunning blunder on the play when he tried to take second and was easily out.
Lyles yielded six hits over five innings, allowing two runs with six strikeouts in his first start of the season after being recalled from Triple-A on Thursday. He was added to the rotation after manager Porter demoted Brad Peacock to the bullpen earlier this week.
Grossman robbed Martinez of a hit in the second inning when he sprinted and extended his glove to make a nifty catch just inside shy of the wall in left-center in the second inning.
NOTES: A man caught a foul ball that bounced in the dirt before sailing into the stands with his baseball cap while holding a small child in the 13th. ... Cabrera, who joined the Tigers for the 2008 season, is the 30th player in franchise history to get 1,000 hits with Detroit. A bit of comic relief came in the 10th when Chris Carter lost his bat on a swing, and Cabrera held out his glove like he was going to catch it as it crashed just in front of him at third. ... Houston optioned RHPs Brad Peacock and Rhiner Cruz to Triple-A Oklahoma City.
- Sports & Recreation
- Houston Astros
- Prince Fielder
- Miguel Cabrera
- Rick Ankiel
- Matt Tuiasosopo