The ovations for Detroit Tigers veteran Miguel Cabrera keep getting louder.
The fans at Comerica Park stood and cheered in the second inning when Cabrera smoked a solo home run to right field. The home run marked the 498th of his career, putting him two away from becoming the 28th player in MLB history with at least 500 home runs.
As Cabrera inched closer to a coveted milestone, the Tigers (52-57) rode the momentum of a memorable swing and electric relief appearances for a 4-2 win over the Boston Red Sox in Tuesday’s series opener.
Detroit is 43-33 since May 8 and 12-6 since the All-Star break.
In the fourth inning, Cabrera singled to left field, his 2,944 hit of his career, passing Frank Robinson for 35th place on MLB’s all-time hits leaderboard. The 38-year-old is hitting .448 (13-for-29) with four home runs, 10 RBIs, five walks and four strikeouts in his past nine games.
Cabrera is two home runs away from No. 500 and 56 hits from No. 3,000. Only six players have reached both plateaus: Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Eddie Murray, Rafael Palmeiro and Alex Rodriguez.
The Tigers took a 3-2 lead in the fifth inning, as Akil Baddoo doubled to the right-center gap to chase Red Sox starter Garrett Richards. A speedy Derek Hill, who drew a walk, scored from first base.
Jonathan Schoop ripped a two-out double to the left-field corner in the seventh inning, and Robbie Grossman followed with an RBI single for a 4-2 margin.
For the final four innings, manager AJ Hinch turned to relievers Joe Jimenez, Michael Fulmer, Jose Cisnero and Gregory Soto. They each produced a scoreless inning. Soto picked up his 12th save this season and struck out two batters, including Rafael Devers with a 101 mph fastball to end the game.
Fulmer struck out the Red Sox’s Nos. 2-4 hitters, Devers (96 mph fastball), Xander Bogaerts (95 mph fastball) and J.D. Martinez (91 mph slider), in the seventh.
Loading the bases
After Grossman and Cabrera produced consecutive singles in the fourth inning, Jeimer Candelario drew a nine-pitch walk to load the bases against Richards. Eric Haase struck out, but Harold Castro made sure not to squander the opportunity.
While the Tigers would have enjoyed more than one run, Castro’s sacrifice fly to left field scored Grossman to tie the game at two runs. The next batter, Willi Castro, grounded out to first base on a first-pitch slider to end the inning.
Richards allowed three runs on five hits and two walks over four-plus innings. He struck out five and threw 46 of 72 pitches for strikes. Until the fourth inning, Cabrera (home run) and Hill (single in the third) were the only players to reach safely.
Mixed results for Peralta
In his past two starts, right-hander Wily Peralta has conceded 11 earned runs across nine innings, with 11 hits, five walks and four strikeouts. As for his five starts before the implosion? Peralta posted a 0.34 ERA — one earned run over 26⅔ innings — and twice completed the seventh inning.
On Tuesday, Peralta was somewhere in between.
He held the Red Sox to two runs (one earned) on six hits and two walks, but the 32-year-old couldn’t complete the fifth inning. He walked Bogaerts and Martinez with two outs in the fifth and reached 96 pitches, so Hinch decided to pull him.
Righty Kyle Funkhouser entered to face Alex Verdugo, who struck out to end the inning.
Although Peralta’s overall results were solid, considering he only gave up one earned run, he fell behind in too many counts and wasn’t always efficient. He needed 22 pitches in the first inning, 24 pitches in the second, 20 in the third, 10 in the fourth and 20 for two outs in the fifth.
The first of two runs against Peralta scored because of Candelario’s throwing error at third base. He bobbled a grounder from Bogaerts and rushed his throw, which darted past an outstretched Schoop at first base. Martinez then plated Bogaerts with a single to right for a 1-0 Red Sox lead. (Because of the error, the run wasn’t charged to Peralta’s final line.)
A second-inning solo home run from Hunter Renfroe made it 2-0.
Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.