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This wasn't the crown Miguel Cabrera really wanted

Cabrera received a crown from Bud Selig and Frank Robinson before Game 3 of the World Series for becoming the major league's first triple crown winner since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.

October 28, 2012|By Phil Rogers

DETROIT — Henry IV had killer instinct. No question about that. But even he knew what Miguel Cabrera will be feeling when he wakes up Sunday morning.

"Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown," Shakespeare wrote about the English king, who according to the bard was suffering from insomnia while even the "vile" in his kingdom slept in their "loathsome beds."

Cabrera most likely will show up at Comerica Park a little tired, especially if he tried to catch a few winks wearing the crown he was presented by Bud Selig and Frank Robinson before Game 3 of the World Series. Selig suggested it be made after the 29-year-old Venezuelan became the major leagues' first triple crown winner since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967, and it was a beauty.

It's a size 71/2, the same as his navy blue cap with the old English D. Three raised prongs, each engraved on a diamond, ring the crown. The MLB silhouetted batter and Selig's signature are on the front, with Cabrera's batting average and home run and RBI totals on the back.

No, this was not found in the back of a closet at MLB's Park Avenue offices. It was manufactured in haste and at significant expense, no doubt inspired by pictures of Babe Ruth wearing similar headgear.

Cabrera received it and the Henry Aaron Award as the American League's best hitter at home plate in front of the crowd of 42,262. Singer Jack White headed the A-list of Detroit natives on hand. Unfortunately for the home fans, "I'm Shaking" was not the theme song for Ryan Vogelsong, the Giants' starting pitcher.

There's no combination of big league hitters like the Tigers' Cabrera and Prince Fielder. They can hit for average. They can hit for power. But that's under normal circumstances.

And these aren't normal circumstances. Against the Giants and their baseball-devouring fielders, they can't hit a lick.

Cabrera got a ground ball through the left side of the San Francisco infield in the first inning Saturday. But Fielder followed by grounding the next pitch at second baseman Omar Infante, and the inning-ending double play continued the trend that had started in the daylight at AT&T Park on Wednesday.

Cabrera and Fielder were a combined one for eight, and the Giants picked up their second consecutive 2-0 victory in the World Series. They go for a sweep Sunday, thanks mostly to starting pitchers that have held the Tigers to one run in 181/3 innings.

Tim Lincecum, banished to the bullpen, followed Vogelsong into Game 3 as he had Barry Zito in the opener. Put him into the equation and the Giants have had their regular-season starters work 23 of 27 innings heading into Game 4, when ace Matt Cain starts.

That's great pitching when it's being done against the Pirates, Astros or Cubs. It's phenomenal against one built around a triple crown winner and a $214-million free agent.

Cabrera and Fielder are a combined three for 19 in the series, with no extra-base hits. "The Tigers talk about team, we don't talk about individuals," Manager Jim Leyland said. "A lot of people have struggled.… We don't point fingers. That's the way it's always been here."

If there was a signature moment in Game 3 it was when Cabrera popped up to shortstop Brandon Crawford with two outs and the bases loaded in the fifth inning. Leyland praised Vogelsong for getting him to chase a high pitch. "He just made a good pitch at a good time," he said.

Fielder has seemed impatient. Cabrera hasn't been driving the ball with loft, and he's getting no help. He hit a smash off Lincecum in the eighth inning Saturday but shortstop Brandon Crawford dived to his left to snag it and popped up in plenty of time to throw him out.

Cabrera placidly turned around and made the long jog back to the third-base dugout, where hitting coach Lloyd McClendon patted him on the shoulders, as if telling the world's biggest Little Leaguer to hang in there.

The Tigers weren't stinging the ball before they took the flight to San Francisco. They won against the A's and Yankees because of their starting rotation, as they averaged only four runs a game in the two preliminary series.

Cabrera and Fielder are batting .226 in the postseason, with one home run apiece. Cabrera has driven in six runs, which is better than nothing, but not enough to get the job done.

He'll always have his monumental 2012 performance, not to mention some bling worthy of a Lady Gaga video. But the piece of jewelry he wanted the most is a World Series ring, and it has just about slipped off his finger.

progers@tribune.com

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