DETROIT -- Miguel Cabrera has compiled a stack of accomplishments in this game with one of the greatest swings ever seen in a right-handed hitter. He accomplished a first on Saturday without swinging the bat at all.
Hours after Indians manager Terry Francona talked about pitching Cabrera inside, most of the pitches Cabrera saw were three feet outside. Cleveland intentionally walked Cabrera three times Saturday for just the second time in his career.
Add in a first-inning unintentional walk, and Cabrera had his first four-walk game in a big league tenure that has seen just about everything else.
"Well, he's an unusual hitter," Francona said.
It was a throwback to Cabrera's early days in Detroit, when the Tigers didn't have a threat behind him. Cabrera led the American League with 32 intentional walks in 2010, then drew 22 more in 2011. His totals stayed in the teens the last few years thanks to cleanup batters Prince Fielder and Victor Martinez converting RBI opportunities.
He has 20 free passes from the Indians, more than from any other opponent, but Cleveland didn't issue him any last season. Cabrera's 11-for-14 series at Progressive Field two weeks ago finally broke Francona, who walked him with a runner on first and four runs down in the eighth inning.
The Indians handled Cabrera on Friday night thanks to Danny Salazar, who struck him out twice with runners on in a 1-for-4 performance. With starter Trevor Bauer scratched and Cleveland trying to stay close, Francona wasn't going to test chance.
All three intentional walks came with first base open. Rajai Davis stole second in the third inning, leading spot-starter TJ House to walk him once he fell behind. Martinez followed with a soft liner into center to plate Davis.
An inning later, Ian Kinsler's two-out RBI double extended Detroit's lead to 4-1 and led Francona to call for the pass from Zach McAllister immediately. Martinez hit a sharp liner, but right at shortstop Jose Ramirez.
The next time Cabrera came up in the sixth, Jose Iglesias had singled and stolen second ahead of Anthony Swarzak's strikeout of Kinsler. Cabrera got the pass, and Martinez flied out to right.
"Sometimes it depends on the situation, the outs, who's pitching," Francona said. "There's all kinds of things that go into it."
Cabrera saw 19 pitches his first four times up, and didn't swing once. He stepped to the plate one more time in the eighth with Davis on second base and Kinsler on first, all but assuring he'd see a strike, but then watched Davis take off for third. Kinsler followed along to second on a double steal.
"That was Raj being Raj," said manager Brad Ausmus, who had the stop sign on.
Davis stole three bases on the day. The Tigers swiped five, all of them with Cabrera either at the plate or on deck.
"Well, we have good players hitting behind Miggy," Davis said. "Victor is really good and J.D. [Martinez] is really good. I think it's a lot more pressure with bases loaded than with two guys on."
It never got that far in the eighth. The Indians continued to pitch to him, albeit carefully enough to get a 3-0 count. On his 23rd pitch of the day, Cabrera had his first and only swing, flying out to center field.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.