CHICAGO -- The first sign that Miguel Cabrera's hitting career might not be done quite yet came with a pair of ground-ball singles before the Tigers left Detroit on Wednesday night. Then came some bigger, better swings in batting practice on Thursday afternoon at U.S. Cellular Field."It looked like his
CHICAGO -- The first sign that Miguel Cabrera's hitting career might not be done quite yet came with a pair of ground-ball singles before the Tigers left Detroit on Wednesday night. Then came some bigger, better swings in batting practice on Thursday afternoon at U.S. Cellular Field.
"It looked like his swing was easy again for him," manager Brad Ausmus said. "It didn't look like there was a lot of effort, and he took it right into the game."
After a line-drive single in the first inning and a hard-luck lineout to shallow right in the third, Cabrera finally got the result he needed. And as his fifth-inning drive sailed into the left-field seats, a drive estimated at 422 feet by Statcast™, he gave the Tigers a lead that stood up through a two-hour rain delay for a 2-1 Tigers win over the White Sox.
In other words, Cabrera's first home run since June 29 was a big one.
"It's just a matter of time with Miggy," said Ian Kinsler, who homered two batters earlier to tie the game. "He's the greatest hitter for a reason, and he's going to continue to swing."
Cabrera went 2-for-3 in Thursday's rain-shortened game, but even the out was hit hard. Brett Lawrie snared his line drive to the right of second with a lunging grab and nearly doubled off Kinsler at second base to end the inning. A replay challenge kept the inning alive, but it couldn't do much for Cabrera's frustration, evident as he stared out from the first-base line.
"If that's five feet one way or the other, it might be another two runs," Ausmus said.
It's a look he has had a few times lately amidst one of his roughest months as a hitter in recent history. He entered the game batting 9-for-43 (.209) with one extra-base hit and two RBIs over his previous 12 games.
"I was getting a little frustrated," Ausmus said, "because it's been a couple days in a row now where we really hit some balls hard and they just seemed to be either right at someone or in an area where someone could run it down. I think sometimes as a hitter you get frustrated. That's what makes baseball so difficult mentally, is that you can do everything right and get nothing for it. And when it happens multiple times over the course of a couple days, it becomes a little frustrating."
Kinsler knows the feeling.
"I think being unable to score runs is the frustrating part," he said. "If you're hitting balls on the nose and you're making outs, that's just part of the game. It's a tough game, it's a weird game and sometimes you go through stretches like that. But we continue to have good at-bats and give ourselves opportunities to score runs; it just wasn't happening. For Miggy to hit that home run and give us the lead, it was big."
It was critical for the Tigers. It was pretty big for Cabrera, too.
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast.