Miggy milestone: Career-high 7 straight hits

Cabrera records first four-hit game since 2019 in win over Pirates

September 9th, 2021

PITTSBURGH -- Like a lot of teams, Tigers coaches and players were glued to the clubhouse televisions Wednesday afternoon to watch Derek Jeter’s Hall of Fame speech. As Jeter eloquently handed out his thanks, turned to .

“You got your Hall of Fame speech ready?” Grossman asked.

When the Hall opens its doors to Miggy in seven years or so, they could well be talking about stretches like his series at PNC Park.

It’s not just that Cabrera had his first four-hit game in three years in Wednesday night’s 5-1 win over the Pirates. He hit different types of pitches for them. Three hits drove in a run. Three had triple-digit exit velocity.

Add Cabrera’s two singles and a ground-rule double in his final three at-bats Tuesday, and he has strung together seven consecutive hits for the first time in his career. His previous best was six, last reached in 2015, the year he won his fourth American League batting title. It’s the longest consecutive hit streak by a Tiger since Omar Infante had seven in '13.

Cabrera stands at 2,971 hits with 21 games left this season. He’ll have fewer games due to days off, but it’s no longer crazy to think he could join baseball’s 3,000-hit club this year.

“He amazes me every single day,” Grossman said. “Other guys on other teams talk about how great he is. It’s an honor to play with a guy that’s that well-regarded.”

The Pirates retired Cabrera twice in the three-game series. One was a pinch-hit sacrifice fly in Monday’s opener, in which he hit the first and only pitch he saw all afternoon to center field to drive in the go-ahead run.

“I marvel at him a lot,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “I think I've said it numerous times in the last three days, he's the best right-handed hitter I've ever seen.”

Cabrera is the best hitter Shelton’s bench coach, Don Kelly, ever played with.

“He just did so many things that were amazing,” Kelly said Tuesday.

Add Wednesday to the list.

Cabrera worked a full count in the first inning against Pirates starter Mitch Keller, fouling off a couple fastballs near the bottom of the zone and shrugging off a couple high heaters. Keller’s 3-2 fastball was at the top of the zone. Cabrera sent a line drive at 103.6 mph off the out-of-town scoreboard in right field for a two-out RBI double to score Grossman.

Two innings later, with runners at the corners in a 1-1 game, Keller threw Cabrera back-to-back fastballs down and in. He took the first, then hit the second, another liner at 101.7 miles per hour into right-center to single in Akil Baddoo and put the Tigers in front for good.

Keller tried to disrupt Cabrera’s timing with a first-pitch curveball with runners on first and second in the fifth inning. Cabrera not only sat on it, he crushed his hardest hit of the night, a 108.2 mph liner to straightaway center to score Jonathan Schoop.

“It was just a textbook day of preparation to hit, and then going out and executing it,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said.

Once Cabrera singled off a first-pitch cutter from Cody Ponce in the seventh, he had his first four-hit game since April 26, 2019, and his first 4-for-4 performance since April 25, 2016. He was on deck for a fifth at-bat when Grossman struck out to end the top of the ninth.

“We didn't make bad pitches to him,” Shelton said. “I think he hit everything. He hit the fastball up, he hit a fastball in, he hit a curveball 0-0 and he hit a cutter for four hits. That shows why he's such a good hitter."

Not even the eerie quiet of a small weeknight crowd could shake Cabrera’s focus. As he manned first base in the sixth inning, two fans in the upper-deck seats repeatedly yelled his name, just to see if they could get a reaction. They could be heard throughout the park.

Between pitches, Cabrera glanced up and waved, to the delight of the two fans. Figuratively speaking, it was the only time Cabrera waved at anything all night. He didn’t swing and miss at a single pitch, and hasn’t since a 95 mph fastball from David Bednar in his final at-bat Tuesday.

On Bednar’s next pitch, Cabrera sat on his curveball -- a pitch with a 44.6 percent whiff rate, according to Statcast -- and hit a ground-rule double to left. It was just the fifth hit Bednar has given up on his curve all year.

Cabrera was on seemingly everything the Pirates threw him. Eventually, his face will be on a plaque in Cooperstown.