Chicago — First big-league start, first big-league hit, first big-league home run.
That all happened for rookie Andre Lipcius in the first inning Saturday, his two-run homer capping a four-run inning that sent the Tigers on their way to a 10-0 romp over the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field.
And guess who was standing on the dugout steps to greet him. Future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera.
“That’s great,” said Cabrera, who notched a few more milestone feats himself Saturday. “First hit, homer, it’s got him feeling good. I appreciate moments like that. I’m happy to see that.”
Lipcius was overwhelmed to see Cabrera waiting for him.
“That was one of the coolest moments of my life,” he told Johnny Kane of Bally Sports Detroit on the field. “Seeing him smiling at me, definitely a moment I’m going to cherish.”
Not for nothing, the blowout win was the Tigers’ third straight and improved their record within the Central Division to 27-15.
“We’re proud of that,” manager AJ Hinch said. “We’ve played each of those teams very well. We need to clean up some things against the other teams and we still have a lot of work to do. But if you’re going to win your division and start pushing this in the direction we want to get to, beating teams in your division is an ingredient.”
It’s been a minute since the Tigers enjoyed such a comfortable win. It was their largest margin of victory this season, in fact.
“I see it as a lot of guys having success,” Hinch said. “I loved the at-bats up and down the lineup. We ran the bases aggressively. We had a lot of two-out hitting tonight. Reese (Olson, starting pitcher) was dealing. … There was a lot to like tonight but the relaxed state that we played in made us play better.”
Cabrera had four hits and knocked in three runs, becoming the first player 40 years of age or older to collect four hits in a game since 1944 when Chuck Hostetler of the St. Louis Browns did it.
“My approach today was swing at first-pitch strikes, be aggressive in the count,” Cabrera said. “Last three or four games, I’ve been taking first-pitch strikes. In that position, I said I’m going to be aggressive and try to make contact.”
The Tigers kept scoring two-out runs against White Sox starter Mike Clevinger, the former Cleveland pitcher, who came in with a career record of 8-2 with a 1.63 ERA against Detroit.
This was not his night. Nor was it the White Sox’s night.
▶With two outs in the first, Spencer Torkelson singled and scored from first on a slicing double into the right field corner by Cabrera.
That was Cabrera’s 3,155th career hit, moving him past George Brett and into 17th place on baseball’s all-time hit list. There would be more.
Kerry Carpenter, who celebrated his 26th birthday with three hits, followed with a bloop single. Left fielder Andrew Benintendi didn’t go after the ball with much urgency, allowing Cabrera to score from second.
Lipcius, with his entire family in the stands to see his first start since he was called up on Thursday, hammered a hanging slider on a 1-2 count and lined it 399 feet over the wall in left-center.
▶With two outs in the second inning, Akil Baddoo singled and scored from first on a single by Zach McKinstry. The ball, hit to left-center, was played slowly by center fielder Oscar Colas and Baddoo was able to score from first without a throw to the plate.
McKinstry scored from first on a double by Torkelson. This time the White Sox made a strong relay home but McKinstry seemed to jar the ball out of catcher Korey Lee’s glove.
▶With two outs in the fourth inning, Torkelson lined an RBI double to score Baddoo, who had singled and stole second. A three-hit night for Torkelson. A three-hit night for Baddoo.
Cabrera followed with his second RBI knock, a single.
The Tigers ended up with 12 hits off Clevinger in four innings.
“We hit some mistake pitches,” Hinch said. “We were aggressive at the right times and patient at the right times. And our two-strike hitting was good. But we’re going to see him again in five or six days at Comerica Park. So don’t get too greedy. He’s a quality pitcher and he’s had a nice year.
“We just had a tough night tonight and we were on his pitches.”
It was Cabrera’s 49th career four-hit game and his first since Sept. 8, 2021, against the Pirates. His career hit total is now 3,158. He’s within eight hits of Adrian Beltre for 16th place.
“I think Miggy can sense as well as anybody probably in baseball when a guy is vulnerable and has to throw strikes,” Hinch said. “When he sticks to his plan, the results are usually good.”
Rookie right-hander Olson was the beneficiary of all that offense. And he responded with one of his cleanest starts of the season. He blanked the White Sox over a career-best seven innings, allowing four singles.
Each runner was erased in a double-play.
“Reese is going to be a really quality pitcher at this level,” Hinch said. “He’s learning how to navigate innings. He had an ultra-aggressive team on the other side and he continued to throw quality pitches and keep the ball on the ground. He’s calm in the competition, which is important. And he’s got weapons, which is even more important.
“And he’s unafraid.”
He needed only 79 pitches to get through seven innings. Which was impressive given that he threw 100 pitches to get through 4.1 innings in his previous start.
Relievers Miguel Diaz, in his 2023 debut, and Alex Faedo got the last six outs in a row.
“We got 27 outs in 28 batters,” Hinch said. “Pretty awesome.”
Twitter (X): @cmccosky