Odds were that Miguel Cabrera already had the Triple Crown locked up heading into Game 162. Jim Leyland could have easily sat Cabrera, forcing Mike Trout to go 6-for-6 or Curtis Granderson to hit four home runs (he hit two) to steal a category and thus, prevent Cabrera from winning the award.
However, in addition to keeping his team's best interests in mind heading into the ALDS on Saturday -- keeping Cabrera healthy -- Leyland also wanted to grant Cabrera his wish to play and continue competing for the historical award on his own terms. In the end, Leyland handled it brilliantly, thanks to being well informed throughout the game on what Cabrera's competitors were doing:
So while Leyland was managing the game and paying especially close attention to starter Max Scherzer as the Tigers tried to get him tuned up for the playoffs and to Austin Jackson as the Tigers tried to preserve his .300 batting average (they did), he positioned media relations man Brian Britten in the hallway a few steps behind the dugout with a laptop.
All for the purpose of monitoring Cabrera's Triple Crown status while the slugger was in the game and for picking the right moment for removing him.
"I had a sheet with so many stats on it, it probably was worse than taking the SAT test," Leyland said. "Brian was on top of everything. I got the rundown between innings, and I even ran back there sometimes between pitches to see if Trout was hitting or if Grandy was hitting."
Think a smoke break was mixed in there, too? There had to have been -- Leyland said managing this game was "more nerve-wracking than Game 7 of the 1997 World Series."
Cabrera was removed from third base with two outs in the bottom of the 4th inning, allowing him to walk off the field to a standing ovation from the fans in Kansas City and his teammates in the dugout.