Cabrera’s clutch hit snaps Tigers’ road funk

Detroit Tigers

MINNEAPOLIS — Mitch Garver’s first career grand slam seemingly had the Tigers destined for defeat four batters in. Eric Haase’s first career grand slam gave them new life. Miguel Cabrera’s 2936th career hit gave the Tigers the only lead they needed.

On a night when opposing catchers hit grand slams in the same game for the first time in Major League history, Cabrera’s latest milestone hit was a go-ahead single in the 11th, earning Detroit its first win at Target Field since last fall with a 6-5 victory over the Twins.

The Tigers had lost eight consecutive games at Target Field, including five in a row this season and two in extra innings. They had also lost eight consecutive road games since their previous visit to the Twin Cities just before the All-Star break. They were seemingly set to extend those streaks Tuesday, trailing by four after Garver’s slam, before they pounced on reliever Hansel Robles in the ninth.

Robles began the inning with a 5-1 lead before loading the bases with one out on Robbie Grossman’s single, Cabrera’s 408-foot double off the wall and Jeimer Candelario’s walk.

Up came Haase, who helped spark Detroit’s rally with a solo homer Monday night and just missed another with a drive that went barely foul to left earlier in the game on Tuesday. He fouled off three fastballs in an eight-pitch battle with Robles, whose 96 mph heater caught just enough of the outside edge for Haase to connect for a line drive, just over the high wall in the right-field corner.

Haase’s 17th home run of his stellar rookie campaign was his third homer of the month at Target Field, and the first grand slam of his big-league career. It wiped clean all the frustrations the Tigers had over six-plus innings against Twins starter Kenta Maeda, who only allowed four hits, though that included an Akil Baddoo solo homer and double.

Much like Monday night, the Tigers had a chance to pull ahead in the 10th but couldn’t get their automatic runner home. Former Tigers farmhand Caleb Thielbar struck out Baddoo with Victor Reyes on third, then Jorge Alcala induced a first-pitch groundout from Jonathan Schoop to keep the game tied. Jose Cisnero escaped a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the inning with back-to-back strikeouts of Max Kepler and Miguel Sanó. 

Cabrera’s ninth-inning double tied him with Barry Bonds for 37th on the all-time hits list. Two innings later, his ground ball through the middle passed Bonds and scored Jonathan Schoop for Detroit’s first lead of the night. Daniel Norris pitched a scoreless 11th for the save.

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