Defensive difference: Cruz lays out, misses

DETROIT -- Why shouldn't Nelson Cruz expect the spectacular? He's hit mammoth home runs and gunned down the go-ahead run at the plate plate. So when Victor Martinez sailed a fly ball that was slicing toward the right-field line, Cruz went for the full-Nelson, so to speak.

This time it didn't work out. The Texas Rangers' right-fielder dove and came up empty. The ball bounced around in the corner and by the time Cruz corralled it and got back in, the 210-pound Martinez was standing on third base with an RBI triple that continued a killer sixth inning in the Tigers' 7-5 victory in Game 5.

Cruz said he was shading the switch-hitting Martinez, who was batting from the right side against lefty C.J. Wilson, and thought he had a chance to snare it.

"It's part of baseball," Cruz said. "Maybe I make that play and the ground ball that Miguel Cabrera hit before that could have been a double play. It wasn't. It was close. I nearly got there, but couldn't quite get it."

It proved costly. One batter before Martinez's triple, Cabrera avoided a double play when his grounder down the third-base line hit the corner of the bag and caromed over third baseman Adrian Beltre's head and scooted down the line. Ryan Raburn scored all the way from first to snap a 2-2 tie.

On Martinez's fly ball with no outs, Cabrera had to hold at second base to make sure Cruz didn't catch it, but once Cruz dove and missed, Cabrera easily crossed home plate. Even if Cruz tried to play it off a hop and hold Martinez to a single, it's debatable if Cabrera, a big man not the fleetest of foot, could have scored.

"You're not sure. You don't want to be too aggressive," Cabrera said. "When you see a play and you're unsure, you got to wait. We're lucky he didn't catch the ball because all series he's made some plays."

It could all be a moot point because Delmon Young followed Martinez with his second home run of the game off Rangers starter C.J. Wilson, a two-run shot that gave the Tigers a 6-2 lead.

Obviously, if Cruz makes the diving stab, Cabrera remains at second with one out. If Cruz pulls up instead of laying out for the highlight-reel catch, perhaps Cabrera isn't able to score and the Tigers have runners at the corners.

If either of those scenarios play out, situations change and who knows if Wilson gives up the homer to Young.

Of course, maybe he does.