Seattle — No way were the Tigers going to begrudge Miguel Cabrera’s decision to be at home with his wife.
Priorities, as they say.
But that didn’t stop them from missing him, or wishing like crazy was in his customary cleanup spot in Tuesday night’s game against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field, which saw the Tigers lose, 5-3.
“He’s always going to be missed in the lineup the way he’s been going,” said Brandon Inge, who had a home run and a single. “But we’ve got to try and pick up some slack. A few balls go a little bit different, and the game goes another way.”
Instead, on a night when Justin Verlander went 7 1/3 innings, they lost for the third time on a seven-game trip that ends Wednesday with an afternoon game against the Mariners.
The Tigers in the second and third innings left runners at third base with less than two outs.
In the second, Ramon Santiago’s hot-shot grounder to third, against a drawn-in Mariners infield, kept Danny Worth from scoring in the second, after the Tigers had already scored two runs to tie the score, 2-2.
In the third, Brennan Boesch hit a one-out single and moved to third when Inge lashed a single to left-center, putting runners at the corner for Don Kelly.
Leyland had Inge sprinting on a hit-and-run when Kelly hit a liner to Chone Figgins at second. Inge was dead as Figgins flipped to first for the double play.
“Santiago hit a bullet, and Kelly did the hit-and-run perfectly,” Leyland said. “It seemed like we should have had four or five runs, and we only got two.”
Of course, when Cabrera is 0-for-0, big innings can be elusive.
The Tigers were down, 2-0, after Milton Bradley whacked a Verlander fastball for a two-run home run in the first. The second-inning rally tied it, and Inge’s home run put Detroit on top, 3-2, in the sixth.
Franklin Gutierrez, who has been one of the few breathing bats in Seattle’s lineup, hammered a Verlander fastball into the right-field seats to tie the score again, 3-3, in the Mariners’ half of the sixth.
That’s where it stayed until the eighth when Figgins got a one-out double, which was followed by a walk to Gutierrez.
That brought up Bradley, whose temperament challenges led earlier this month to a two-week vacation and to some well-publicized strife with Seattle’s front office and fans.
Verlander nearly had Bradley with strike three on a curveball umpire Marty Foster decided was a ball. Bradley then roped the next pitch to right field for a single that Magglio Ordonez handled cleanly.
But with Figgins, one of the planet’s faster inhabitants, sprinting for home, Ordonez’s throw was a tad late as Seattle went back on top, 4-3.
Joel Zumaya came on to pitch to Jose Lopez, who hit a sacrifice fly to medium center to score Gutierrez and leave cleanup duties to Mariners closer David Aardsma, who put the Tigers away with a 1-2-3 ninth.
Verlander struck out eight batters and only allowed Seattle five hits heading into the eighth. In one 16-batter stretch from the first into the sixth innings, Verlander allowed only two baserunners.
But his record slipped to 5-3 and, with all five runs charged to him, his earned-run average sits at 3.74.
“He was a little fastball-happy and up (with location),” Leyland said. “But he pitched a good game, as did their guy.”
Their guy was Doug Fister, who gave up nine hits but only two earned runs in seven innings.
Fister also noticed someone was missing Tuesday. He wishes the expectant parents, the Cabreras, all the best.