Detroit Tigers designated hitter Miguel Cabrera located an 84.5 mph slider inside the strike zone and cashed in on a ground-ball single to left field in the first inning.
He returned to the dugout after the inning but almost immediately stepped out for a curtain call. The fake crowd noise begged for him to appear in celebration of his 2,000th hit with the Tigers organization.
And he did, flashing a smile and putting his hands in the air to nobody other than his teammates and coaches.
Cabrera’s 2,000th hit (and 2,842nd in his MLB career), which drove in a run, helped the Tigers (16-16) to a 3-2 victory and three-game series sweep Sunday against the Minnesota Twins at Comerica Park.
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Detroit has won five in a row and secured three consecutive series victories against opponents with winning records — Cleveland Indians, Chicago Cubs and Twins. Meanwhile, Minnesota has dropped to 20-15 overall and has lost five in a row.
Second baseman Jonathan Schoop put the Tigers ahead in the sixth inning with a solo home run that snuck inside the left-field foul pole against Twins starter Kenta Maeda.
The Tigers have the day off Monday before a two-game road series against the Milwaukee Brewers. Michael Fulmer starts Tuesday, followed by Spencer Turnbull on Wednesday.
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Mize lacks command
In three innings, Tigers top prospect Casey Mize only gave up two hits. Typically, that would result in a successful outing.
Not when three batters get hit by pitches, two more reach base from walks and a wild pitch allows a run to score.
Mize pegged Miguel Sano in the first inning, along with Nelson Cruz and Jake Cave in the third. His only hits allowed were a second-inning single to Alex Avila and a homer in the third to Jorge Polanco on a 92.7 mph fastball up in the strike zone.
Mize forced himself into tough situations in each inning because of his command problems, giving up two runs before manager Ron Gardenhire called for his exit after 67 pitches. He struck out four in his third MLB start.
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Candelario rakes (pt. 2)
In the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader, first baseman Jeimer Candelario homered to give the Tigers a one-run lead in the third inning and the Tigers went on to win, 4-2, because of a two-run blast from Cabrera.
Candelario delivered again Sunday with a solo home run, his fourth of the season, to tie the game at 2 in the fourth inning. He caught an 81 mph slider from Maeda and drove it 406 feet to right field.
He was 0-for-17 in five games in July but has turned around his season in August by batting 32-for-90 with six doubles, three triples, three home runs and 14 RBIs.
The next batter after Candelario’s homer was shortstop Niko Goodrum, but his at-bat didn’t go as planned. He struck out on five pitches, ultimately going down swinging on a fastball that missed the zone.
When he went back into the dugout, he chucked his bat or helmet in frustration. In a ballpark without fans and minimal fake crowd noise, his anger was easily heard. He has struck out 49 times in 108 at-bats (124 plate appearances) this season.
He got punched out 13 times in 26 at-bats in July and hasn’t improved in August with 36 more of them in 82 at-bats.
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Goodrum has now eight three-strikeout games in 2020. He has 10 two-strikeout contests. He is hitting .200 with five homers, 17 RBIs, 13 walks and 46 RBIs.
Last season, Goodrum struck out 138 times in 423 at-bats across 112 games.
Evan Petzold is a sports reporting intern at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. The Free Press has started a new digital subscription model. Here’s how you can gain access to our most exclusive Detroit Tigers content.