Detroit Tigers veteran Miguel Cabrera — the 28th player in MLB history to hit at least 500 career home runs — tucked in his chain, slapped third base coach Ramon Santiago’s hand and turned the corner toward home plate.
Cabrera had just launched his 502nd homer, tying the game at three runs in the fourth inning.
Once the Tigers knotted the score again in the seventh, Cabrera stepped into the batter’s box with runners on the corners and one out. Both teams had six runs, at least until the 38-year-old delivered a go-ahead RBI single to center off Oakland Athletics reliever Jake Diekman.
The Tigers rode Cabrera’s momentum to an 8-6 win Wednesday at Comerica Park, snapping a four-game losing streak. Entering Wednesday, the Tigers (63-71) had dropped 23 of their past 24 games against the Athletics, including 12 in a row in Detroit.
“I don’t talk a lot about character wins, but this is an example of a lot of things working for us,” Tigers manager AJ Hinch said. “We did some really good things … There’s so much in character wins when you’re playing against a good team. We’re gonna fight the fight. That’s been determined by this team a long time ago. I’m super-proud of these guys.
“Now we have a chance to win a series against a very, very good team across the way.”
In the fourth, Cabrera tagged a changeup from rookie right-hander James Kaprielian and drove the pitch 423 feet to left-center for his 15th home run in 2021.
“The homer keeps us in the game and not having us feel like we’re in this rut where we’re falling behind,” Hinch said. “We did answer. And we answered with five innings in a row where we scored. Miggy with the big swing, obviously it’s a big jolt for us.”
His big swing, though, was squandered when reliever Jose Urena took over for Tigers starter Wily Peralta.
After getting the first out in the fifth, Urena allowed three consecutive hits: Josh Harrison (single), Starling Marte (single) and Matt Olson (double). The double from Olson scored Harrison and Marte. Jed Lowrie’s ensuing two-out RBI double pushed Oakland’s lead to 6-3.
Responding to adversity
The Tigers began their comeback with solo home runs from Akil Baddoo and Harold Castro in the fifth and sixth innings, respectively.
Homering for the first time since July 27, Baddoo won an eight-pitch battle with Kaprielian and pulled his fastball 371 feet to clear the right-field wall. His 11th homer chased Kaprielian from his start without one out in the fifth. The righty allowed four runs on four hits and three walks.
One inning later, Castro trimmed the Tigers’ deficit to 6-5 with an opposite field home run — the seventh of his career and second of 2021 — to left-center off right-handed reliever Yusmeiro Petit.
“We never give up,” Castro said. “That means a lot for me to help the team. I’m here to help the team win. We never give up and keep fighting with those pitchers. … We always have energy. We always have that mentality to win the game, even if we are down.”
When left-hander A.J. Puk replaced Petit in the seventh, Derek Hill’s leadoff bunt single applied pressure. Baddoo followed suit by drawing a full-count walk, and Jonathan Schoop tied the game with a single to left field.
Hill’s speed helped him score from second base on Cabrera’s single for a 7-6 lead. In the eighth, Baddoo’s RBI single made it 8-6. The Tigers got scoreless efforts from Joe Jimenez in the seventh and Jose Cisnero in the eighth before Gregory Soto picked up his 17th save with a perfect ninth.
“It was a lot of big hits,” Baddoo said. “That just passed the torch and carried it over to the next person. We were able to come out on top. That’s really big for us, just knowing that’s a really good team right there. It’s a good start to September.”
Peralta returns from IL
Reinstated from the injured list Monday, Peralta jumped right back into action after healing from a blister on his right finger. He allowed three runs (two earned) on four hits and one walk over four innings, striking out two batters.
Peralta would have gone deeper, but a 36-pitch fourth inning doomed him. The Athletics scored two runs for a 3-1 lead on Marte’s solo home run and Lowrie’s RBI double.
“He had a hard time executing his split,” Hinch said. “I don’t think 10 days off helped him. He had to be a little careful with his throwing program in that time off. He was throwing with a Band-Aid on and never quite got the feel for the split like he normally does.
“He got his pitch count up, so I wanted to be careful after the long layoff, but it’s nice to have him back in the rotation. I feel good about him going into his next start.”
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Peralta gave up a leadoff single to Harrison in the first inning and tried to pick him off at first base with one out. His throw went past Schoop, allowing Harrison to advance to third base.
On the next pitch, Olson delivered a sacrifice fly for a 1-0 lead.
Candelario ranks No. 1
The Tigers scored their first run in the second inning to even the score thanks to Castro’s one-out RBI single to left field. He plated Jeimer Candelario, who drilled a changeup to center for yet another double this season.
Candelario leads MLB with 37 doubles.
Here are the players trailing Candelario on MLB’s leaderboard: Tommy Edman (35), J.D. Martinez (35), Ozzie Albies (34), Rafael Devers (34), Marcus Semien (34), Xander Bogaerts (33), Nolan Arenado (32), Nick Castellanos (32), Bryce Harper (32), Jesse Winker (32) and Cedric Mullins (31).
Candelario finished August with a .267 batting average (27-for-101), 10 doubles, one triple, three home runs, 13 RBIs, seven walks and 22 strikeouts over 26 gams. He is hitting .273 across 124 games this season.
Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.