Miggy pop: Cabrera’s 13 biggest career HRs

Detroit Tigers

Miguel Cabrera enters the 2021 season just 13 home runs shy of becoming the 28th member of the 500-homer club. Here’s a look at a baker’s dozen of the biggest in his career:

1) June 20, 2003, vs. Rays — Walk-off homer in MLB debut
The original will always be the best. Cabrera was just 20 years, 2 months and 2 days old when he made his Major League debut for the Florida Marlins. After making an out in each of his first four at-bats, Cabrera stepped to the plate in the 11th inning with the winning run on second and sent an Al Levine pitch deep to straightaway center at Pro Player Stadium.

2) Oct. 22, 2003, vs. Yankees — World Series HR off Roger Clemens
Cabrera was still a 20-year-old rookie when he got his first taste of playoff baseball, helping power the Marlins all the way to the World Series against a vaunted Yankees squad. With a 2-1 series deficit and a Game 4 matchup against Clemens, the Marlins faced an imposing task. Clemens tried to intimidate Cabrera — less than half his age — with a couple of fastballs up and in, but Cabrera stayed alive in the count by fouling off a pair of 2-2 pitches, then took Clemens deep to the opposite field for a two-run homer in the first inning. The Marlins won in extra innings, part of a run of three consecutive wins to take their second World Series title.

3) Aug. 9, 2013, at Yankees — Game-tying HR off Mariano Rivera
Cabrera was 0-for-4 in his career against the Hall of Fame closer when he stepped to the plate as the potential tying run with two outs in the ninth inning. To add injury to insult, he fouled back-to-back pitches off his leg after falling into an 0-2 hole. Just when Rivera seemed ready to finish him off, Cabrera connected with a 2-2 cutter and sent it over the center-field fence at Yankee Stadium.

“They should make a movie from that at-bat,” Torii Hunter said afterward.

4) Oct. 15, 2003, at Cubs — Three-run homer in National League Championship Series Game 7
One night after the Steve Bartman game, Cabrera continued the Cubs’ misery and the Marlins’ series comeback with an impressive home run off a Kerry Wood fastball at his ankles. Cabrera not only golfed it out, he nearly sent it onto Waveland Avenue. The three-run homer gave the Marlins an early lead, though the Cubs answered back.

5) June 20, 2016, vs. Mariners — Miggy hits Comerica’s concourse
Not since Carlos Pena in 2005 had a Tiger hit a ball onto the outfield concourse at Comerica Park. Cabrera not only got the ball there, but he also put it out of the ballpark completely. A fan ended up with the ball on nearby Adams Street. Statcast conservatively estimated the drive at 454 feet. A little more than a week later, Cabrera hit a 459-foot drive off Marlins pitcher Dustin McGowan.

6) Aug. 7, 2013, at Cleveland — Go-ahead homer off Danny Salazar
Cabrera struck out in each of his first three at-bats against Salazar, a hard-throwing right-hander making his second big league start. But when Salazar tried to get another fastball by him in the eighth inning with the tying run on base, Cabrera pounced, sending a go-ahead homer deep to center. While Cleveland fans at Progressive Field gave Salazar a standing ovation on his way off the mound for a 10-strikeout game, Cabrera received an ovation from visiting Tigers fans.

7) Aug. 5, 2012, vs. Cleveland — Walk-off completes five-run comeback
The game itself was crazy: The teams traded runs until Cleveland scored three runs in the top of the 10th. Closer Chris Perez retired his first two batters in the bottom of the inning, but back-to-back walks set up an Austin Jackson RBI double and a game-tying single from Omar Infante. Cabrera finished it by turning on a 3-1 pitch and sending it to deep to left.

8) May 28, 2010, vs. A’s — Three-homer game at Comerica Park
Cabrera had never hit three home runs in a game until his eighth season in the Majors. He returned to action following paternity leave for the birth of his daughter and put on a power display against the A’s, capped by a pulled homer off a hanging slider from Andrew Bailey. Detroit lost the game, but Tigers fans left with something to be happy about.

9) May 19, 2013, at Rangers — Tape-measure drive in three-homer game
Cabrera had the national spotlight on Sunday Night Baseball and a warm evening in homer-friendly Texas to put on a show. He didn’t disappoint, slugging his second career three-homer game. The second homer was the most majestic, a line drive off Derek Holland that kept going until it hit the top of the grassy batter’s eye beyond center field.

10) Oct. 18, 2012, vs. Yankees — American League Championship Series homer off CC Sabathia
The Tigers were on their way to the World Series, but first, they had to finish off the Yankees in the ALCS. With a packed Comerica Park ready to party, Cabrera made sure to dash any hopes of a New York rally in Game 4 when he lined a Sabathia pitch into the left-field seats for a 2-0 lead.

11) Oct. 10, 2013, at A’s — AL Division Series homer off Sonny Gray
While Justin Verlander’s gem was the story of Game 5 of the ALDS, Cabrera provided the offensive support while ruining the incredible story of Gray. Oakland’s rookie phenom had shut down the Tigers’ offense for 11 innings in the series, and Cabrera had been struggling for the series, but Gray made the mistake of challenging him with a high fastball. Cabrera put it in the service area behind the left-field fence, pushing Detroit in front for good.

12) June 4, 2019, vs. Rays — Grand slam off Blake Snell
Just when Cabrera looked like he was done, he answered emphatically. He was back in the lineup after missing the previous two games with what had been diagnosed as chronic knee issues that will bother him the rest of his career. Making matters worse, he was facing the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner. No matter. Like reading off a script, Cabrera stepped up with the bases loaded, reached for a breaking ball at his ankles and golfed it out, hobbling around the bases.

13) May 16, 2015, at Cardinals — Miggy’s 400th homer gives him Venezuelan record
As we count down toward another Cabrera milestone homer, we might as well admire the last one, too. Not only did Miggy’s drive to center off Tyler Lyons put him in the prestigious 400-homer club, it powered him past Andres Galarraga for the most home runs ever by a Venezuelan-born player.

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