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October 5, 2013

Playoff Prospectus

ALDS Game 1: Tigers 3, A's 2

by Sam Miller


Sometimes you just need to be with family. Nothing against your friends--who, most of the time, are more fun to be around--and nothing against a night alone watching The Shield (sometimes you need that, too), but family is different. Family knew you when you were 4 years old, and when you’re around people who knew you when you were 4 years old there’s really no point acting like you’re more sophisticated or impressive than you are. You’re still the kid who wet his pants because he didn’t know how to unlatch his overalls quickly. There’s something freeing about being able to be that kid, not the adult you dumbly aspire to be.

This isn’t a metaphor. That’s what I did last night, and that’s what I did when I was 4 and I couldn’t get my overalls unlatched. So I didn’t watch Game 1 of the ALDS between the Tigers and the Athletics. But I did make four predictions, I did seal them in an envelope three days in advance, and I did mail them to myself. Let’s open them up and see how I did.

1. Miguel Cabrera will go 5 for 5 with two homers, or he will go 0 for 4 with three strikeouts.
The thing about narratives isn’t just that they shape data any way they want to tell a story, but that they tend to move ever closer to the extremes. Miguel Cabrera can only emerge from this postseason series as one of two things: the half-God superhero who hits clutch home runs without a functioning lower body, because his team needs it and he is a team player; or a rusted jalopy that lost its engine and is now no more than a heavy paperweight in the Tigers’ lineup.

Cabrera actually went… 1 for 4, with an RBI. The game-winning RBI! (In the first inning with nobody out.) It was a solid single that showed excellent plate coverage, and he followed that with a wonderful line drive to center field that was right at Coco Crisp for an out. Then a fly out to right and a groundout to third, bobbled just enough to let us see Cabrera struggle down the line. So a mixed batting line, but the announcers were down on him throughout, questioning his ability to get any power, questioning his ability to get to the inside pitch, questioning this funny-looking, armsy swing at an outside pitch:

“I think they need to pitch Cabrera in just to see if he can turn something,” Buck Martinez said after the second at-bat. “If he's having trouble with his hips and legs he's going to have a hard time opening up those hips."

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Related Content:  Oakland Athletics,  Playoffs,  Detroit Tigers,  Alds

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