DETROIT — The sight of Miguel Cabrera rumbling around third base trying to score from second on a single on Tuesday night looked like a flashback. He was notorious for running through stop signs thrown up by third-base coaches during his younger, spryer years, but he hadn’t attempted to score from second this season, stop sign or not.
“I didn’t think that Miggy was going to stop,” said Zack Short, whose line-drive single off shortstop Corey Seager’s glove brought the likely future Hall of Famer home. “And he didn’t.”
On the contrary, third-base coach Gary Jones was waving Cabrera home. Left fielder Travis Jankowski’s throw beat him, but it was just wide enough to give Cabrera a chance to slide past catcher Jonah Heim’s tag.
“The baserunning will continue to be entertainment when he’s involved,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “He never broke stride. Jonesy sent him really early. It was a really good slide.”
Cabrera finished with his first three-hit game since July 5 of last year. His 3-for-3 performance went for naught in a 10-6 loss to Texas, but it was a reminder what he can still sometimes do when he’s feeling right — deliver not just hits, but overall production.
The setup was favorable for Cabrera, who entered the night 6-for-14 with seven walks and just two strikeouts against Rangers starter and fellow Venezuelan Martín Pérez. Still, Cabrera was in the midst of a 5-for-36 May, including a 2-for-24 skid.
Cabrera opened Detroit’s scoring with the kind of clutch at-bat that he can provide this team whether he’s hitting well or not. He faced an 0-2 count with runners at the corners and one out in the second inning. Pérez tried to sneak a 94 mph fastball by him, but Cabrera was quick enough to lift a fly ball to right, deep enough to score Spencer Torkelson.
Cabrera’s fourth-inning run came after he went to the opposite field again off Pérez, this time lining a single. Again Pérez tried jamming him inside before leaving a fastball over the plate, in this case a 2-2 sinker. Jake Rogers’ two-out walk moved Cabrera into scoring position before Short’s single.
Cabrera didn’t give Pérez a chance to get to two strikes on him an inning later, turning on a 1-1 fastball when Pérez tried again to jam him inside. Cabrera didn’t just pull the ball; he ripped it into the left-field corner for a double, scoring Jonathan Schoop. It was his first extra-base hit since April 12 and the 1,135th of his career, one behind fellow Tigers legend Ty Cobb for 15th in MLB history.
That marked the end of the night for Pérez and the start of Grant Anderson’s Major League debut. Anderson plowed through Detroit’s lineup, striking out seven of his first eight batters until Cabrera came back up in the eighth inning. Cabrera again fell into an 0-2 count, but then he fouled off three pitches, all around the plate, keeping his at-bat alive as he waited for a pitch he could handle. He got it when Anderson left a sinker at the bottom of the zone and over the plate, sending a ground ball through the left side for a single.
With that, Cabrera didn’t just have his 248th career three-hit game. He also had four total bases on the night and 5,272 for his career, moving him past Ken Griffey Jr. for 15th in MLB history.
“When Miggy has a night like tonight, it’s rewarding for him personally,” Hinch said, “despite the fact that it will not feel as good because he’s going home having lost the game.”