Another milestone! Miggy passes Kaline on all-time hits list

Future Hall of Famer’s historic hit sets up clutch game-tying HR, but ‘pen falters

May 6th, 2022

HOUSTON -- With three singles in Thursday's 3-2 loss to the Astros at Minute Maid Park, Miguel Cabrera passed Tigers legend and Hall of Famer Al Kaline for the No. 31 spot on the all-time MLB hits list and now sits at 3,008. His third and final knock came with two outs in the ninth inning and Detroit trailing, 2-0, and it set the table for a dramatic two-run, game-tying home run by Jeimer Candelario. 

Unfortunately for the Tigers, Gregory Soto surrendered a hit, a walk and the game-winning knock in the bottom half of the frame without recording an out. The walk-off hit was a single by Kyle Tucker, who tapped a 96 mph Soto fastball against the shift. 

“Tough loss, tough league,” said Tigers manager A.J. Hinch. “But hopefully, the energy of the top half of the ninth inning will carry over into tomorrow.”

The primary source of energy for most of Thursday’s game was Cabrera, who went 3-for-4 and had another potential hit robbed by a leaping catch from Astros third baseman Alex Bregman. 

“We’ve watched Miggy pass a lot of different guys,” Hinch said. “It’s incredible to watch the history that [he’s] doing. I know it’ll mean a lot to him in the long run. It’s a little tough tonight, but any time you’re mentioned in the same breath as Mr. Tiger, it’s got to feel good.” 

Through a shared Detroit connection, Kaline and Cabrera had become quite close before Kaline passed away in 2020, making it an emotional milestone. During the game, Louise Kaline, Al's wife, issued a statement through the Tigers on behalf of the Kaline family. 

"On behalf of the Al Kaline family, I'd like to join the Tigers in congratulating Miguel Cabrera on reaching and ultimately surpassing the 3,007 hit mark that Al achieved back in 1974," the statement reads. "Al had often said that Miguel was the greatest hitter he'd ever seen. And I know Al would have been the first to congratulate his friend on this accomplishment with a handshake and, of course, a big hug. 

"We know there will be many more milestones to come, and like all Tiger fans, we will be rooting for Miguel as he surpasses each of them during the remainder of his Hall of Fame career."

Cabrera tied the mark in the top of the fourth inning off Astros starter José Urquidy and broke it in the ninth by lining a 93 mph fastball from Houston closer Ryan Pressly to center field.

“Excellent at-bats,” Hinch said. “He’s putting great swings on pitches. He’s getting in hitter’s counts. He’s not trying to do too much. He’s doing everything you could ask our hitters to do.”

“It means a lot for us,” Candelario said of Cabrera’s historic night. “I know for him, he'll say we didn't win today, so we just turn the page and come back tomorrow, expecting to have a ‘W.’”

Next up on MLB's all-time hits list is Wade Boggs, who sits at No. 30 with 3,010 for his career.

On the mound, starter Tarik Skubal pitched six strong innings for the 8-16 Tigers, striking out a season-high nine batters with solo home runs by Jose Altuve (on Skubal’s first pitch) and Jeremy Peña the lone blemishes. Though Detroit’s lineup wasn't able to provide enough run support against the defending American League champion Astros (15-11) -- who won their fourth straight contest -- Skubal took responsibility for the loss.

“I felt like I threw the ball well, but it doesn’t matter,” Skubal said. “We lost. If I don’t give up those two runs, that two-run bomb that we hit in the ninth is a game-winning home run. All that matters is winning.”

For now, the Tigers will have to settle for more history from Cabrera.