Miguel Cabrera's pursuit of a rare baseball feat — a 3,000th career hit — remained on hold Thursday, with the New York Yankees taking heat for intentionally walking the Detroit Tigers slugger.
Cabrera needs one hit to become just the 33rd player in Major League Baseball history to reach the 3,000-hit milestone, and Tigers fans in Detroit were primed to witness the feat on Thursday.
They reacted with jeers and boos and chants of "Yankees suck!" when Cabrera, with 2,999 career hits, came to the plate in the eighth inning and Yankees manager Aaron Boone gave the signal for him to be intentionally walked.
Cabrera had already flied out in the first inning and struck out in two more at-bats.
With two out and runners at second and third base, Boone opted to walk the two-time Most Valuable Player to load the bases and set up a left-hander vs. left-hander matchup between his pitcher Lucas Luetge and Detroit batter Austin Meadows.
Boone acknowledged that the decision to issue an intentional walk was "a little more gut-wrenching than usual."
"The left-on-left, I felt like the matchup — I just liked it a little bit better in that situation and it came down to a baseball call for me there," Boone said.
It didn't pay off, however. Meadows smacked a two-run double that gave the Tigers a 3-0 lead and an eventual 3-0 win.
Cabrera took it all in stride.
"It's baseball," he told reporters, noting he had missed three chances to reach the 3,000-hit milestone earlier in the game.
"I know history is very important," Cabrera said in comments posted on MLB.com. "But we need to win first. It's not about me. It's about the team."
Cabrera, 39, could become the first Venezuelan MLB player to reach 3,000 hits.
Dominican Albert Pujols is the only active MLB player who has reached the milestone.