10/14/05 11:46 PM ET
He's a singular sensation
Cabrera hitting .333 with Game 3 homer as teammates struggle
By Doug Miller / MLB.com
Shortstop Orlando Cabrera, he of the .375 ALCS batting average going into Friday night's Game 3 in Angel Stadium, was urging leadoff hitter Figgins to be more aggressive and slugger Guerrero to be just a hair less aggressive.
Cabrera, meanwhile, seemed to have it all dialed in.
And despite the fact that the Angels lost to the White Sox by a score of 5-2 on Friday night and fell behind, two games to one, in the best-of-seven series, Cabrera once again shined on the big stage, just like last year with the Boston Red Sox.
With the Angels sleepwalking through the first five innings, scratching out two hits against hard-throwing Sox right-hander Jon Garland and playing in front of a lifeless home crowd, Cabrera did something about it.
After striking out twice to start his game, Cabrera strode to the plate with two out and a runner on first in the sixth inning and crushed a Garland offering over the wall in left field for a two-run homer that cut Chicago's lead to 5-2 and jolted the stadium into a frenzy.
"I just got lucky," Cabrera said. "He threw strikes, he came back and threw a sinker. I was looking for it and I was able to keep it fair."
"We got some momentum out of it," Figgins said.
"But [Garland] threw the pitch, gave up the runs, and went back to what he was doing all night. We just couldn't do anything against him."
That seemed to be the consensus around the clubhouse, even from Cabrera, who hit a deep flyout to center field in his final at-bat and finished 1-for-4. He's now batting .333 (4-for-12) in the series.
"He was in command of all his pitches, he kept the ball down and worked the corners," Cabrera said. "You have to give credit to him. His velocity was really good tonight and almost every first pitch was a strike."
The Angels had four hits in nine innings against Garland and continued a sluggish offensive series, with Cabrera the lone bright light.
After signing a four-year, $32 million contract in the offseason, Cabrera had a tough beginning in Anaheim. For starters, he replaced fan favorite David Eckstein, the leadoff man who helped power the Angels to their first World Series championship in 2002.
And one thing that never changed was Cabrera's defense. He was spectacular all season long and finished with seven errors, the fewest of any shortstop in the Major Leagues.
Cabrera is no stranger to postseason play. After he was acquired by the Red Sox in a trade deadline deal last year, he batted .294 and sparked his team throughout October, notching big hits and making great plays in the field.
Now he has the chance to do it for the Angels, and he's kept the good vibes going. Even in defeat.
Hitting coach Mickey Hatcher said he expects the team to follow Cabrera's lead in Game 4 on Saturday.
"He's a competitor," Hatcher said. "You can tell he's grinding in there every at-bat. He'll find a way to beat you."
And Cabrera said after Friday's game that the Angels will find a way to beat Chicago.
"Worried about not coming back? No," Cabrera said.
"It's early. There's a lot of series left."
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.