Triple Crown winner and likely American League MVP Miguel Cabrera took an 89-mph fastball from Sergio Romo right down the pipe to end the World Series on Sunday night.
An 89-mph fastball.
With Quintin Berry looking nothing like a major league No. 2 hitter ahead of him and Prince Fielder flailing away behind, Cabrera certainly didn’t get much help. And he actually hit a two-run homer tonight, though it would have been nothing more than a lazy fly to right if the gusting wind hadn’t picked it up and deposited it over the wall.
That was the only time in the game Cabrera managed to put a ball into fair territory. He struck out three times and walked once to finish the series at .231. Fielder went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts behind him to end up at .071. Jhonny Peralta came in at .067. Tigers catchers combined to go 1-for-14. The three corner outfielders not named Delmon Young were 1-for-22.
Young, who also had a wind-aided homer tonight, was the best of the Tigers, going 5-for-14. Austin Jackson also did nice work, reaching base safely seven times. Omar Infante was 5-for-15 before breaking his hand when he was hit by a pitch tonight.
That’s it for success stories, though. The Tigers scored six runs in four games against the Giants. They topped that total 34 times in 162 regular-season games. The two shutouts in the series matched their total for the entire regular season.
Cabrera looking completely overmatched against Jeremy Affeldt and Romo in his final two at-bats will be the lasting images from tonight’s Game 4. Which is hardly fair, considering that the superstar behind him looked like that for four games straight. Cabrera and Fielder still need to be considered the game’s best 3-4 combination, but they were completely outshined by Pablo Sandoval and Buster Posey the last five days.
MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports that Cardinals’ shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been sporting a new look around Busch Stadium with a pair of “strobe glasses,” technology-enhanced specs designed to help athletes focus on the ball. Like a strobe light, the lenses of these glasses affect a player’s vision by rapidly changing opacity, giving its wearers the illusion that the objects they see are moving more slowly than normal. Once a player adjusts to the new speed of play, they gain a greater sense of control and are able to time their actions with more precision.
Diaz isn’t the first MLB player to utilize the technology, just the first Cardinals’ player to do so. It’s been tested by Bryce Harper, Corey Brown, Tommy Joseph, Austin Hedges and Joe Mauer, among others around the league, and has been used for everything from refining a catcher’s reflexes behind the plate to tweaking a hitter’s ability to track a pitch. Per Langosch, Diaz has been using the glasses to hone in on the ball during pregame drills, increasing both his confidence and response time on the field and improving his defense at short.
The shortstop has been the focus of some concern this season after seeing a sizable dip in his production at the plate, and his five fielding errors, 0.6 UZR and 0.6 fWAR haven’t helped matters, either. He sustained a minor thumb injury during an at-bat on Friday night, and was left off of the Cardinals’ starting lineup on Saturday, though manager Mike Matheny didn’t rule out his ability to pinch-hit during the series. While the strobe glasses are a good start, Diaz will need more than a pair of specs to match the spotlight-worthy performance he turned out during his rookie season in 2016.
Red Sox’ left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez may finally get a chance at cracking the rotation again, assuming all goes well in Double-A Portland first. Rodriguez took the field prior to the club’s afternoon session with the Angels, firing 68 pitches in a simulated game as he prepared for an upcoming rehab assignment in Portland on Thursday.
The 24-year-old southpaw suffered a right knee subluxation during pregame warmups on June 1, and it’s been a slow path to recovery ever since. It’s not the first time Rodriguez has had issues with his right knee — he sustained a similar injury during spring training last year — and this time around, the Red Sox weren’t about to gamble with their starter’s health. Ian Browne of MLB.com reports that Rodriguez was put in a knee brace and underwent exercises designed to help him regain some mobility and stability while he worked back up to full strength on the mound.
He’ll still need to prove he can throw a 75- to 80-pitch outing in Double-A, and barring any significant setbacks, will likely rejoin the Red Sox’ pitching staff when they visit the Rangers next month. In the meantime, the club will continue to cycle starters through the No. 5 spot, which has seen no fewer than three different pitchers since Rodriguez hit the disabled list. The lefty is 4-2 in 10 starts this season after logging a 3.54 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and career-high 9.6 SO/9 through his first 61 innings.