From bombs to (gasp!) a bunt, and everywhere in between: Miguel Cabrera’s milestone hits

Detroit News

Detroit — He has hits against all 30 major-league teams (Cleveland, 266). He has hits in 41 ballparks (Comerica Park, 1,108). He has hits in every spot in the lineup (from 1,653 batting third to just one batting leadoff). He has hits in 16 different innings (545 in the first). And he has hits off 997 pitchers — take a bow, James Shields; you’ve given up the most, at 27.

Now, Miguel Cabrera, a major-leaguer since 2003 and a Tiger since 2008, has 3,000 hits, reaching the magic number Saturday at Comerica Park against the Colorado Rockies.

Here’s a look back at some of the milestones along the way.

No. 1

JUNE 20, 2003

It had been a pretty mundane major-league debut for Cabrera, who had turned 20 two months earlier. He was 0-for-4 with a strikeout and a double play until he came to bat in the bottom of the 11th, when, facing veteran left-hander Al Levine, Cabrera collected his first hit, walk-off hit and home run all in one swing — blasting a 1-1 pitch over the fence in center field for a 3-1 Marlins win over the then-Devil Rays.

No. 500

MAY 12, 2006

In just his 438th career game, Cabrera picked up career hit No. 500, in the first inning against Pirates pitcher (and former Tigers prospect) Victor Santos. Cabrera singled to left, driving in a run, in what eventually was a five-run inning for the Marlins — though they ended up losing, 12-9. This would be the Marlins’ first of two straight losing seasons, which — not surprisingly — were his final two seasons in Miami.

No. 533

JUNE 9, 2006

In speaking to reporters in Lakeland, Florida, this spring, Cabrera joked he might bunt for his 3,000th hit. Not so much. According to, this was the only bunt hit of Cabrera’s career, as Cabrera laid it down the third-base line. (He probably was trying to sacrifice the leadoff runner over to third, but got lucky.) Cabrera has five sacrifice bunts for his career, and, best we can tell, hasn’t tried once as a Tiger.

No. 843

MARCH 31, 2008

Cabrera, acquired by the Tigers in a blockbuster offseason trade that also included Dontrelle Willis for Detroit and sent prospects Andrew Miller and Cameron Maybin to Miami, wasted no time getting Tigers fans excited. On Opening Day in Detroit, he made outs in his first two at-bats before blasting his first hit — and home run — as a Tiger, sending a pitch from Kansas City’s Gil Meche deep to left in an eventual 5-4 loss.

No. 1,000

SEPT. 7, 2008

In his 861st game, Cabrera singled in the first inning off Twins lefty Glen Perkins for No. 999, then homered to right-center off Perkins to lead off the fifth inning for the milestone hit. That pulled the Tigers within 4-3 in a game they eventually won, 7-5, at the Metrodome (see, the Baggydome wasn’t always a nightmare for Detroit!). It was his 32nd homer in a year in which he hit 37, tops in the league.

No. 1,500

JULY 15, 2011

A sellout crowd of 43,593 on a Friday night at Comerica Park watched as Cabrera, as he regularly did, put on a fireworks show before the fireworks show. He picked up hit No. 1,499 with a homer off White Sox right-hander Gavin Floyd in the fourth inning, then singled off Floyd for No. 1,500 in the sixth. He was on his way to winning his first of three straight batting titles, but Detroit lost, 8-2, on a rare clunker from Justin Verlander.

No. 1,802

OCT. 2, 2012

Primed to win baseball’s first Triple Crown in 45 years, Cabrera singled twice off Royals right-hander Jeremy Guthrie in Game 162, the second driving in a pair of runs. With the Tigers already heading to the playoffs, manager Jim Leyland pulled him in the fifth inning — and he exited to a nice ovation from the Royals fans. Cabrera edged Mike Trout by four points to win the batting title, and he finished at .340 with 44 homers and 139 RBIs.

No. 2,000

APRIL 4, 2014

Coming off a second consecutive MVP season, Cabrera wasted little time following up with a scorching start to 2014. He had three singles in his first four at-bats against the visiting Orioles, and then, in the eighth inning against right-hander Ryan Webb, he hit a two-run homer deep to left field in an eventual 10-4 win for the 3-0 Tigers. Just like with No. 1,000, Cabrera homered for hit No. 2,000, too.

No. 2,231

MAY 16, 2015

On a Saturday afternoon before a sellout crowd at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Cabrera made history with his first at-bat, homering off Cardinals left-hander Tyler Lyons. That was not only career homer No. 400 for Cabrera, but it also gave him the all-time homer lead among Venezuela-born major-leaguers, passing his childhood idol — and eventual mentor — Andres Galarraga in a game the Tigers went on to win, 4-3.

No. 2,500

SEPT. 18, 2016

The Sunday afternoon in Cleveland started a bit painfully for Cabrera, who was plunked by right-hander Trevor Bauer (he’s been hit by a pitch 69 times in his career, for those scoring at home). Cabrera got some revenge the next time up, when, with two on and nobody out in the third inning, he laced a single for career hit No. 2,500, also off Bauer. It set up a huge inning for the Tigers, who went on to win, 9-5.

No. 2,779

AUG. 6, 2019

Since it opened in 2000, and even after they moved the fences in, critics have called Comerica Park a pitcher’s ballpark (Juan Gonzalez once reportedly called it a horse-bleep ballpark). Maybe, just maybe, there haven’t been enough good hitters in Detroit for the Tigers to prove this theory wrong. Cabrera did his part, with a fifth-inning single off White Sox left-hander Hector Santiago, giving him 1,000 career hits at Comerica Park.

No. 2,842

AUG. 30, 2020

Cabrera is the third player to get his 3,000th career hit in a Tigers uniform, though the other two got more than 3,000 with the Tigers — Ty Cobb (3,900) and Al Kaline (3,007). Cabrera did get his 2,000th hit with Detroit on a first-inning single off Twins right-hander Kenta Maeda. He’s the eighth player with 2,000 hits with Detroit, a list that also includes Charlie Gehringer, Harry Heilmann, Sam Crawford, Lou Whitaker and Alan Trammell.

No. 2,878

MAY 12, 2021

At this point in his career, the milestones were coming quite frequently for Cabrera. On this night, before a sparse, COVID-restricted crowd at Comerica Park, he drilled an RBI single in the third inning off Royals left-hander Danny Duffy, and then his next time up two innings later, he got another RBI single off Duffy. That gave Cabrera 2,878 career hits, passing ex-Tigers coach Omar Vizquel for most by a Venezuela-born player.

No. 2,906

JUNE 15, 2021

In a stat that perhaps speaks most to the major offensive threat Cabrera has been for the better part of two decades, with a first-inning double off Royals left-hander Mike Minor, he became just the 22nd player in major-league history to reach 5,000 total bases — and second among active players, behind only Albert Pujols. For stat geeks out there, included are his 17 career triples, with his last one coming in 2016.

No. 2,955

AUG. 22, 2021

Cabrera had been sitting on 499 career home runs for 11 days as a) he slumped and b) Tigers management struggled with whether to play him on the road with the milestone looming. After coming up empty in a six-game homestand, Detroit sat him the first two games in Toronto but played him in the third. In the sixth inning, off Blue Jays lefty Steven Matz, Cabrera became the 28th member of the 500-home run club.

No. 2,973

SEPT. 10, 2021

It’s widely and fairly acknowledged that it’s been years since Cabrera has been vintage Cabrera, but he still is prone to show flashes — like he did down the stretch last season. With two singles to start the game off Rays right-hander Michael Wacha, Cabrera had recorded a hit in nine consecutive plate appearances. That’s just three off the major-league record (held by three players), but a first for a player 38 years old or older.

No. 3,000

APRIL 23, 2022

With a first-inning single off Rockies right-hander Antonio Senzatela on Saturday afternoon, Cabrera joined one of baseball’s most exclusive clubs — just the 33rd member of the 3,000-hit club, tying Roberto Clemente. He’ll next pass Mr. Tiger, Kaline, who finished with 3,007. Cabrera becomes the first new member of the 3,000-hit club since Pujols joined in 2018, and soon will join Pujols and Hank Aaron as the only players with 3,000 hits, 500 home runs and 600 doubles (he’s just one double away).

Twitter: @tonypaul1984

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