ANAHEIM -- Going strictly by the many defensive metrics that are available, Asdrubal Cabrera of the Indians does not rate as an elite shortstop. What those numbers do not quantify is Cabrera's baseball intelligence, which was on full display in Tuesday's win over the Angels.
"He's a baseball player," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "His clock is really good."
Without Cabrera's quick thinking, Cleveland might not have pulled off its 4-1 win over Los Angeles in 14 innings on Tuesday night. In the eighth inning, Cabrera noticed Josh Hamilton straying a bit too far from second base and the shortstop alerted reliever Joe Smith that a pickoff play might be possible.
"He walked up to me and told me, 'Hey, watch him. Don't forget about him on second,'" Smith said. "I was like, 'All right.' I was not expecting it. I haven't done a pick to second base with him playing shortstop, I'm pretty sure, in the five years I've been here."
With one out and runners on first and second, Smith looked back and saw Cabrera quickly sneaking behind Hamilton to cover the bag. The reliever did not know the shortstop was going for the pickoff, but Smith reacted by spinning and firing a perfect throw. Hamilton dove headfirst back to second base, but it was too late.
"It's one of those things where maybe it was better off that you didn't know it was coming," Smith said, "so you didn't screw it up. You just react. That was awesome."
Kole Calhoun followed with a single to right field, but Smith escaped the inning unscathed and the Tribe held on to win in extras.
Cabrera was the one who quarterbacked the play.
"I saw Hamilton, he had a big lead off second," Cabrera said. "So I thought we had a chance to make the out. Joe made a good throw."
Asked about Cabrera's heads-up play, Francona smiled.
"I had the best seat in the house," Francona said. "I can see it in front of me, so it was fun to watch, because I could see it unfolding."