Thursday afternoon, Detroit Tigers legend Miguel Cabrera was trying to become the 33rd member of baseball's 3,000th hit club. He went hitless in his first three at-bats. In his fourth trip to the plate, the New York Yankees walked him intentionally.
Yes, the Yankees intentionally walked Miggy when he was chasing his 3,000th career hit.
To be fair, the situation warranted an intentional walk. The Tigers led 1-0 in the eighth inning and had runners on second and third with two outs. Lefty Lucas Luetge was on the mound and obligated to stay in because of the three-batter minimum. Batting behind Cabrera was lefty Austin Meadows, who hit .198/.270/.293 against southpaws last season. Strategically, it made sense! The Yankees were trying to hold the Tigers right there.
"We got a lot of respect for Meadows behind (Cabrera)," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said after the game (video). "Just left on left, I felt like the matchup -- I just liked it better in that situation. Baseball call for me there. Tough decision."
Needless to say, the decision was not popular with those in attendance at Comerica Park. The fans wanted to see history and the Yankees and Boone heard heavy -- heavy -- boos the rest of the game. There was some poetic justice when Meadows dunked a two-run single to center to break the game open.
Was Cabrera upset about the intentional walk? "No, my on-base percentage went up," he told reporters, including The Athletic's Cody Stavenhagen, after the game. For what it's worth, Cabrera was seemingly telling the booing crowd to settle down as he left the field after the eighth inning.
"Little more gut-wrenching than usual," Boone said, adding he expected to be booed after walking Cabrera "... Yeah, of course. Certainly understand that. Don't necessarily like being in that position, but that's part of it."
I believe two things. One, intentionally walking Cabrera was the correct move within the context of the game. And two, it is a move people are correct to be angry about. The guy's chasing 3,000 hits and we all want to see it! The people at the ballpark are right to feel like they were robbed of a chance to see history. I totally understand the booing.
"Boonie's obligation is to his own team and their chances of winning," Tigers manager AJ Hinch told MLB.com's Jason Beck after the game. "He had the matchup behind Miggy that he wanted. So you could see it coming. I know our fans responded accordingly, but I totally get it."
Thanks to the Meadows' two-run single, the Tigers avoided the sweep Sunday with a 3-0 win (box score). Cabrera will continue his pursuit of 3,000 hits when the Colorado Rockies head to Detroit for a three-game interleague series this weekend.