Cabrera, Haase lead Tigers to first doubleheader sweep in Cleveland since 1977

Detroit News

Cleveland – Sometimes Eric Haase has to pinch himself to make sure he’s not dreaming all this.

It wasn’t his own 442-foot blast into the left field bleachers Wednesday night that fired him up. It was watching Miguel Cabrera banging balls around Progressive Field like Haase has seen him do his entire life.

“Him going opposite field, especially in Cleveland, that’s vintage Miggy,” Haase said of Cabrera’s 494th career home run that he belted in the fifth inning of the Tigers 7-1 win over the Indians, earning them an extremely rare doubleheader sweep in Cleveland. “Growing up, he always crushed the Tribe here.

“Whatever it is about this park, he just sees the ball really well. He was an absolute hassle when I was playing with Cleveland. So to be hitting behind him and watching him do it live — he’s a couple homers away from 500 — we’re all just watching history being made.”

Speaking of history. The doubleheader sweep of the Indians — they took the first game 9-4 — was the Tigers’ first since Aug. 7, 1986 and their first sweep in Cleveland since Sept. 14, 1977.

“It was a long day, but a productive one,” manager AJ Hinch said.

The Tigers finish with a winning record in the month of June, 14-13. It’s the same record they had in May. It’s the first time the Tigers have had consecutive winning months since 2016.

At the mid-point of the season, they are 36-45, best since 2018.

“The expectation for us to have winning months has to be the norm,” Hinch said. “We need that to be the goal. We need six good, winning months to make it to the playoffs. The mindset is good here. These guys care.

“We proved it in back-to-back months that we can be winners.”

BOX SCORE: Detroit 7, Cleveland 1

Cabrera had himself a series. Shoot, he had a month. He had two hits and an RBI in the first game. In the nightcap he had two more, including career home run No. 494, a solo shot in the fifth.

“He’s healthy now and he’s starting to lock it in,” Hinch said. “And he’s staying disciplined in his approach. He’s settling in nicely.”

Cabrera sits alone at No. 28 on the all-time home run chart now, passing Lou Gehrig and Fred McGriff. He’s raised his average from .199 to .240 since June 13. He’s hit .400 (18 for 45) in that span.

In the month of June, he hit .329 with five doubles, three home runs and 14 RBIs.

Haase, who spent nine seasons grinding in the Indians farm system only two get 19 games in the big leagues over two seasons, had been 0-for-9 against his former team. He hadn’t his a home run since June 8, 56 plate appearances.

But with two outs in the fourth inning, he jumped a 3-0 fastball from Indians starter Logan Allen and destroyed it. The ball left his bat with an exit velocity of 113.2 mph and traveled 442 feet deep into the bleachers in left field.

“It’s awesome,” he said. “The biggest difference is, I knew I had to earn some more fastballs. I needed to be more patient. In my first at-bat I spit on three really good sliders (and got a walk). It was 3-0 and I’m going to take a shot. If I get a heater I’m going to take a good hack at it and that’s what I did.”

It was the fifth hardest ball a Tigers hitter has put in play this season and it put the Tigers up 3-1.

“As long as I’m up here and winning at the big-league level, that’s priority one,” Haase said.

You know what else had to feel good Wednesday night? Getting your first win as a starting pitcher since April 26, 2017. That’s what 32-year-old Wily Peralta did, allowing just an unearned run and three hits in five solid innings.

“It’s been a while,” Peralta said, smiling. “I’m very excited and happy with the results.”

The Indians hit some balls ridiculously hard off him. In the second inning alone, they posted exit velocities of 114, 107 and 110 mph. The average exit velocity for the game was 97 mph.

But only one of those did damage hard-hit balls did damage — an RBI triple by Bradley Zimmer in the second inning.

Peralta struck out five without issuing a walk.

“It’s fantastic just to have the winning months,” Haase said. “It seems like there’s been a cloud kind of following us around. But we’re getting our footing now and climbing up slowly but surely.”

The game, after a two hour and 29-minute rain delay before the first game, started at 10:16 p.m. It was second-latest start time in the last 20 years. The latest, of course, was the famous Carlos Guillen walk-off game against the Yankees in 2007 that started at 11:06 and ended at 3:30 a.m.

Twitter@cmccosky

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