'Iconic Miggy:' Cabrera swats historic 511th homer

September 28th, 2023

DETROIT -- noted last week that his favorite memory from three-plus years of playing with  was watching him homer through the snow on Opening Day in 2021.

“He slides into second base because he doesn’t know it’s a homer,” Skubal recalled. “I couldn’t tell if it was a homer; I was surprised we were even playing. I don’t know how he sees the white ball with all the snow coming down. It takes a guy of that caliber to do that.

“That’s iconic Miggy to me. A lot of my coolest moments, best moments in baseball, are him accomplishing something. There’s been a lot of history that I’ve been able to watch and be a part of, which is really special to me.”

On a rainy Wednesday night at Comerica Park, with Skubal on the mound for the Tigers, Cabrera recreated the homer, just with different precipitation. And as Cabrera splashed around the muddy infield on his trip around the bases for his 511th career home run, putting Detroit ahead early in an 8-0 win over the Royals, he couldn’t help but laugh.

“The only difference was it wasn’t in the snow,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “He really kick-started the night.”

Cabrera’s opposite-field drive tied him with Hall of Famer Mel Ott for 25th on MLB’s all-time home run list. Miggy also tied Norm Cash for second in Tigers history with 373 homers.

“I was actually upstairs [in the clubhouse] changing jerseys because mine was soaked,” said Skubal, who tossed four scoreless innings with eight strikeouts before rain ended his outing with a no-decision. “I had to go watch it on the iPad and I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s awesome.”

Cabrera’s latest home run is believed to be his first to take advantage of Comerica Park’s new outfield dimensions. It came in one of the areas of the park that has taunted him over the years. Cabrera jumped on a first-pitch fastball from Royals opener Jonathan Bowlan and sent a 397-foot drive through the raindrops and off the high wall in right-center field. Under the old dimensions, it would’ve still been in play, but the ball went well over the new fence just in front of the wall.

“That was vintage Miggy,” Hinch said. “That’s how he hits. To see him pull it off in this last week in front of the home crowd, it’s awesome.”

Unlike the snow homer two years ago, Cabrera knew it was out and did not slide into second base.

He added a single through the left side of the muddy infield two innings later, and eventually scored on Tyler Nevin’s three-run homer. It was Cabrera’s 3,170th career hit, still 16th in Major League history, 14 shy of Cal Ripken Jr.

By that point, the rain had picked up, putting umpires and Comerica Park’s grounds crew in a battle to get the game through five innings to make it official. The giant splash of water that Nevin created trying to shoot a hockey puck in the dugout as part of the Tigers’ home run celebration was a bad sign. Eventually, the rain was too much for the grounds crew to keep the infield playable, too many puddles developing in too many areas.

Cabrera was scheduled to get Thursday off before playing in each of the remaining three games against Cleveland as part of Miggy Celebration Weekend. But once rain forced the game to be suspended Wednesday night, Cabrera stayed in the game, drawing another RBI with his 21st career bases-loaded walk.