21,529 fans showed up to Comerica Park Thursday to hopefully see Tigers designated hitter Miguel Cabrera become the 33rd member of MLB’s exclusive 3,000-hit club.
Cabrera entered the game sitting on 2,999, and in the bottom half of the eighth inning, with Detroit looking to add on to its 1-0 lead, he came up to the plate with runners on second and third with two outs. Cabrera was 0-3 on the day and this was likely to be his last at-bat.
So obviously Cabrera took a base on balls — but not by his doing. Yankees manager Aaron Boone made the decision to intentionally walk Cabrera, which was followed by a chorus of boos and a “Yankees suck” chant from the Tigers faithful.
The move was likely the right one, as Cabrera and his lifetime .316 average against lefties was enough to scare Boone, who had LHP Lucas Luetge on the mound. Tigers left fielder and left-handed hitter Austin Meadows was next, who came into the game hitting just .240 off southpaws for his career.
But the move backfired — badly.
On the first pitch of the at-bat, with the crowd still boing in unison, Meadows chased a slider down and away, yet made contact off the end of the bat. Remarkably, the ball dropped just in front of the outstretched glove of center fielder Aaron Hicks.
A 3-0 win for the Tigers, yes, but a potential chance at history negated by Boone, who might be the most unpopular man in Detroit next to Michael Jordan.
Boone did address his decision to issue the free pass to Cabrera after the game and said it was “difficult.”
“Just being down in that spot, you know, felt like that was the matchup we wanted there,” Boone said. “And, you know, obviously understanding the moment in time, so, yeah, little more gut wrenching than usual.”
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