Cabrera slugs 1st homer of ’23 as June surge continues

Detroit Tigers

DETROIT — Miguel Cabrera hadn’t started in both games of a doubleheader since last July, when he was flirting with a .300 average and on his way to the All-Star Game and before his aching knees and back forced a cutback in playing time.

Tigers manager A.J. Hinch needed two games from Cabrera on Wednesday as he searched for offense to try to keep up with the Braves. But he wanted to make sure Cabrera was healthy to play two.

“I went by his locker today just to check in on him,” Hinch said. “And he’s like, ‘Yeah, you can find some hits.’”

Turns out the hits were all over the field Wednesday at Comerica Park. And for the first time this year, he found one over the fence. It would be some consolation in a doubleheader sweep, as Detroit lost 10-7 and 6-5 decisions, respectively, to the Braves. But as the Tigers return to divisional play for four games at Minnesota, followed by three at home against the Royals and three more against the Twins, Cabrera is showing signs of heating up.

“He found some hits on his own,” Hinch quipped. “Maybe that’ll springboard him and us.”

Cabrera is batting 7-for-18 with five extra-base hits over his last five games. He’s 8-for-23 in June with five of his 15 hardest-hit balls of the season per Statcast, all with exit velocities of 101 miles per hour or harder — not including the 99.6 mph comebacker he hit off 39-year-old Braves reliever Jesse Chavez in the sixth inning of Game 1 on Wednesday. Cabrera has been smiling as he runs the bases, and he’s generally putting up better at-bats, whether he gets a hit or not.

Historically, this is when Cabrera heats up. His .918 career OPS in June is his highest of any month, whether for warm weather or for repetitions at the plate. The Tigers would love to see that now, as he makes his way through one more summer.

Cabrera hadn’t homered in a game since he was a spry 39-year-old taking Kansas City’s Daniel Lynch deep last September. His home-run counter overlooking left field at Comerica Park had been stuck on 507 since last winter, even as the hit counter next to it ticked up. It was fair to wonder if the number cards might be stuck together.

But when Cabrera connected with a first-pitch fastball from Spencer Strider in the second inning of Game 1, the resulting drive to left-center left little doubt, landing a couple of rows into the left-field seats. The 95.7 mph heater was the hardest pitch Cabrera has sent out since he took a 97 mph pitch from then-Rays reliever Tommy Hunter deep in 2017.

With that, Cabrera became the oldest Tiger ever to homer at Comerica Park; he had been third behind Gary Sheffield and Victor Martinez. He also became the fifth Tiger to hit a home run at age 40 or older, joining Norm Cash, Doc Cramer, Darrell Evans and Bobby Lowe. The laugh on Cabrera’s face as he rounded the bases made him look like a kid again.

Cabrera worked a full count against Strider his next time up before flying out to right. He sent an 0-2 cutter from Chavez back up the middle and off Chavez’s left leg.

“Things happen when you face a Hall of Famer and you throw some things in the same place a couple of times,” Chavez joked as he showed off the bruise on the inside of his leg, just below his knee.

Once Cabrera crushed a Raisel Iglesias pitch to send a 101.6 mph drive over the left-field fence on a hop for a ground-rule double in Game 1, he had his second three-hit game of the year and his second game in four days with multiple extra-base hits. He was a triple shy of the cycle for the 38th time in his career and the first time since 2020. He tied Hall of Famer Harry Heilmann for fourth in franchise history with 809 extra-base hits as a Tiger.

At 3,114 career hits, Cabrera is one away from tying Alex Rodriguez for 21st in Major League history. His next home run would tie him with Sheffield, his teammate in his first season as a Tiger in 2008, for 26th all-time. More important for him right now, it would help the Tigers continue to ignite their offense.

Articles You May Like

Pennsylvania Lottery Online Plays
Six day two 2024 MLB draft prospects who could interest the Tigers
Five most likely first round options for the Detroit Tigers in the 2024 draft
Tigers 4, Dodgers 3: Another comeback for the Cardiac Cats
Tigers select RHP Josh Randall with 85th pick in 2024 MLB Draft

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *