Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera hasn't been himself for nearly six weeks thanks to numerous nagging injuries. The most notable, a strained abdomen suffered on Aug. 29 that sapped his strength and helped limit him to one home run over the final 28 games. But you can add in a groin pull, hip soreness and all of the other typical aches and pains that accompany six straight months of baseball.
Simply stated, Cabrera is banged up, but maybe a corner has finally been turned. Over the past few days, there have been signs that suggested Cabrera might be improved physically. The power returned with home runs in their Game 5 victory over the Oakland A's in the ALDS and Game 2 against the Red Sox. He's even been a little more aggressive and limber in the field, making plays he wasn't making ten days ago. But perhaps the kicker came in Detroit's 7-3 victory over Boston in Wednesday night's ALCS Game 4.
In the fourth inning, Miguel Cabrera straight up swiped second base off the Red Sox battery of rookie Brandon Workman and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia... uncontested. As in, Cabrera had such a terrific jump that Saltalamacchia had no play, and then he literally walked the final few steps to the base.
As you probably know, that's not exactly Cabrera's game even when he's healthy. He's paid to show up, hit, and move around the bases at a more leisurely pace. In fact, he's only notched 36 steals in 54 regular season attempts during in his 11-year career. But it should be noted he's been running with greater success recently, stealing 12 bags in 14 attempts, including the postseason, since 2011.
Still, the element of surprise was in play. Cabrera's health, along with the RBI single he'd just delivered to make it 7-0, probably eliminated the stolen base possibility from Workman's mind. His focus was on Prince Fielder, but Cabrera got him. It was a straight steal, and it was a clean steal that the Tigers or Cabrera likely don't attempt unless they're confident he's moving closer to 100%.
It was also a notable steal since it was only Detroit's second in nine postseason games. The first? Just three batters earlier when Austin Jackson stole second. He would come around to score on Cabrera's single, which gave the reigning MVP 24 postseason RBIs with Detroit and set a new franchise record.
All in all, it was a big, breakthrough performance for Detroit, and even bigger win as they even the series at two heading into Game 5.
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