Detroit Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera reaches milestone, and teammates chip in for 5-3 win

Detroit Free Press

TORONTO — Miguel Cabrera’s swing sent the ball 400 feet to deep right-center field, over the wall and into the bullpen.

This ball sounded different coming off his bat, considering the 104.1 mph exit velocity. There was no doubt about it. The 38-year-old pummeled the changeup from Toronto Blue Jays left-hander Steven Matz to become the 28th player in MLB history to reach 500 career home runs. The milestone moment included a celebration from both teams, a standing ovation from the fans and an ensuing curtain call to create a beautiful atmosphere at Rogers Centre.

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Cabrera’s home run tied the game, 1-1, in the sixth inning.

“It was a great feeling,” Cabrera said. “It was nice timing because we tied the game. That was big for us because we came in today trying to win the series. … It was a really good game. We got it in extra innings and won the game.”

That was followed, a few innings later, by a costly error — Blue Jays second baseman Marcus Semien spiked a routine throw to first base with two outs in the ninth inning — which allowed the Detroit Tigers (60-66) to capitalize on the spark their leader provided for a 5-3 win in the 11th inning.

Facing lefty reliever Kirby Snead in the 11th, rookie Daz Cameron ripped a changeup for a two-out RBI double to left. He plated Robbie Grossman, the free runner on second base to open the inning, to break a 3-3 tie. Willi Castro followed with an RBI double for a 5-3 lead.

Righty reliever Joe Jimenez pitched a scoreless bottom of the 11th to complete the three-game series victory in the finale.

“I want to thank the Toronto fans,” Tigers manager AJ Hinch said. “We had some Tiger fans in attendance. The Blue Jays fans, remarkable reaction to that. Steven Matz, obviously uncomfortable on the mound, but waiting a few minutes. Charlie Montoyo, their manager, giving us that moment. It was really cool. I tip my cap to those people on the other side that handled it with a lot of dignity.”

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Trailing 2-1 in the ninth, Willi Castro drilled a two-out ground-rule double. Hinch went to Harold Castro as a pinch-hitter, and he grounded the ball to Semien at second base. But Semien threw the ball at the feet of first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who couldn’t scoop the ball cleanly for the out.

Castro scored easily to even the score.

In the 10th, Jonathan Schoop hammered a sacrifice fly to center field, scoring free runner Zack Short for a 3-2 lead. In Soto’s second inning of work in the 10th, the Blue Jays scored their equalizer on Alejandro Kirk’s sacrifice fly.

Soto then loaded the bases with two outs, giving Kevin Smith a chance to play hero. The 25-year-old rookie, playing in his third MLB game, struck out swinging at a slider with the bases loaded to squander the game-winning opportunity.

Back to Miggy

After hitting No. 499 on Aug. 11 in Baltimore, Cabrera entered Sunday hitting .143 (4-for-28) with four RBIs, four walks, nine strikeouts and one hit-by pitch over his past eight games. Hitless through two games in Toronto, Cabrera turned his trip around with No. 500 in his third at-bat against Matz.

Cabrera popped out to Semien in foul territory for Sunday’s first-inning plate appearance, followed by a groundout to shortstop Bo Bichette in the fourth.

He finished the series 1-for-13 with one home run, one RBI, one walk and five strikeouts.

“I was excited,” Jeimer Candelario said. “When he hit that ball, I know something special was about to happen. History was about to happen. For me, being a part of that is a blessing. He helped us win a ballgame, too. It’s special for me, my teammates and I know for his family.”

As Cabrera’s homer boosted the Tigers, the bullpen stepped up to keep the Blue Jays in check until the eighth inning. Hinch received scoreless efforts from Kyle Funkhouser (who entered with one out in fifth inning), Alex Lange (sixth) and Jose Cisnero (seventh).

Righty reliever Michael Fulmer took over for the eighth and allowed an RBI single to Lourdes Gurriel, giving the Blue Jays a 2-1 lead.

Hutchison makes start

Making his second start this season, right-hander Drew Hutchison guided the Tigers through 4⅓ innings against the team he played for in 2012 and from 2014-16. (That includes a stint as the Blue Jays’ Opening Day starter in 2015.)

Hutchison allowed one run (unearned) on four hits and one walk with one strikeout.

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The lone run against Hutchison came in the third inning, when Teoscar Hernandez hit a line drive off Candelario’s glove near third base. The ball traveled into foul territory and beyond the infield. His error came with two outs, a product of a double play he turned two plays earlier.

Bichette — who singled to open the third — trotted home.

Although Hutchison threw just 61 pitches, Hinch pulled him after retiring No. 9 hitter Kevin Smith to begin the fifth inning. He didn’t want Hutchison to face Toronto’s batting order for a third time in a row.

The Blue Jays threatened to add more runs, advancing Bichette and Guerrero into scoring position with two outs against Funkhouser. But the high-leverage reliever struck out Hernandez to escape the mess he created.

Of Hutchison’s 61 pitches, 42 went for strikes.

An incredible play

In the second inning, Kirk and Gurriel reached with one-out singles. Once Hutchison earned his season out, Smith stepped to the plate and smoked an 0-1 slider between left fielder Robbie Grossman and center fielder Derek Hill.

Hill fully extended in a dive to rob Smith of extra bases and the Blue Jays of two runs.

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Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzoldRead more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter

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