‘Miggy sent everybody home happy’: Cabrera’s walk-off single lifts Tigers over Guardians

Detroit News

Detroit — Miguel Cabrera is still getting the job done, even at age 39.

After starting pitcher Tarik Skubal saw his scoreless streak come to an end and the Tigers’ promising offensive start against the Guardians fizzled on Thursday night, Cabrera came through in the clutch.

With a runner on third and one out in the ninth inning, Cabrera delivered a walk-off single and the Tigers kicked off a nine-game homestand at Comerica Park with a much-needed 4-3 win.

“That was drawn up about as well as we could,” manager AJ Hinch said of Cabrera’s 14th walk-off hit of his career. “Miggy is putting up such good at-bats and contributing. It’s fun to see. That’s a good win for us, coming off the win yesterday (at Minnesota) with another good performance. Miggy sent everybody home happy.”

Before that happened, Skubal cruised through the first two innings and extended his scoreless run to 21 innings, the longest by a starting pitcher this season. But that streak and an early 3-0 lead got wiped out. Back-to-back hits by Oscar Mercado (single) and Luke Maile (double) promptly ended Skubal’s streak and marked the first run he’s allowed in his last four starts.

Four batters later — with runners on second and third with two outs — Skubal got ahead of Owen Miller in the count, getting him to swing at a knuckle curve at the bottom of the zone. Skubal went back to the same pitch but this time Miller connected and roped a two-strike, two-run single to left-center to tie it up.

BOX SCORE: Tigers 4, Guardians 3

“If that pitch (to Miller) is a little bit more down, he probably either swings and misses or hits it closer to Javy (Báez) because it’s just out in front a little bit more,” Skubal said. “Obviously, it’s frustrating. It’s not what I want. My job is to go out there and get zeros and keep us ahead in games.

“But that happened. You’ve just got to flush it and go attack the next inning because we were kind of limited down there in the bullpen. I was just trying to eat innings after that.”

Skubal buckled down and dialed back in from that point on, allowing just one baserunner — on an infield single — over the next four innings. He gave up five hits and a walk with five strikeouts over seven innings. He threw 73 of his 102 pitches for strikes and ended his night by retiring eight Guardians in a row.

“Skubal was dominant. He took over the game,” Hinch said. “He could’ve gone a couple different ways. It was a weird inning when he gave up the three runs. …Just a messy inning that ends up in a tied game.

“Then we didn’t do much offensively after that when they went to their bullpen and Skubal was like, ‘They’re not scoring again.’ It was very impressive with how he went about it. Even at the end he’s fighting to stay in after 100 pitches. He knew he had a lot of responsibility tonight.”

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Jason Foley tossed a scoreless eighth and Gregory Soto pitched around a one-out double to keep it tied in the ninth, helping set the stage for Cabrera.

Jonathan Schoop hit a one-out double off Guardians right-hander Trevor Stephan. Then after Schoop advanced to third on a wild pitch, he scored on Cabrera’s 3,029th career hit — a single to center.

With his 3-for-4 performance, Cabrera is hitting .300 this far into a season for the first time since 2015.

“Earlier in the game Ernie Clement, their third baseman, said, ‘That guy’s amazing, huh?’ I said, ‘Only for the last 20 years,'” said Robbie Grossman, who had two hits and scored twice.

“He has swung the bat so well this year. Nothing surprises me at this point.”

While the Tigers (16-28) have struggled to put much pressure on opposing pitchers, they bucked the trend early on against Konnor Pilkington, who was making his fifth MLB appearance and second start this season for the Guardians.

The Tigers made Pilkington work from the start and needed just four batters to plate a run. After Grossman reached on an infield single and moved to second on a walk by Cabrera, he scored on single to right by Báez.

Pilkington was able to avoid further damage by getting out of a bases-loaded jam to end the first. The Tigers made up for the missed opportunity the next inning as they pushed across two more runs, with Derek Hill scoring on a sacrifice fly by Schoop and Grossman scoring on a two-out, opposite-field single by Cabrera.

But after producing five hits and three runs over the first two innings, the Tigers mustered two more base knocks — a single by Daz Cameron in the third and a bloop single by Cabrera in the fourth — over the next six innings until their bats came back to life in crunch time.

“We’re a completely different team when we when we play from ahead. We can be a momentum team, too,” Hinch said. “That was nice in the first to get a run. I felt like we left a couple out there in that first inning and then scored a couple in the second and then it got pretty quiet. But anytime you’re at home…and you get off to a good start like that, it’s a nice way to start the series.”


Twitter: @jamesbhawkins

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