DETROIT -- As Jose Cabrera skied a 97-mph fastball to right field, high and deep into the night sky, it was hard to know for sure where the ball would land. Steven Souza Jr. followed it from the grass, to the track and then to the wall before reaching up
DETROIT -- As Jose Cabrera skied a 97-mph fastball to right field, high and deep into the night sky, it was hard to know for sure where the ball would land. Steven Souza Jr. followed it from the grass, to the track and then to the wall before reaching up unsuccessfully as it landed in the second row.
For Cabrera, who hit his first walk-off since 2013 and the seventh of his career in Detroit's 5-3 win on Thursday, the result was almost unexpected.
"It felt good," Cabrera said. "But the way this is going right now, I was not sure."
The home run was just Cabrera's sixth of the season and first since May 20. The ball was hit off Tampa Bay reliever Tommy Hunter at a 37-degree angle with a 100.2-mph exit velocity, which gave it just a 28 percent hit probability according to Statcast™.
Cabrera will take it, however, as it came at a clutch time for him and gave his team a win after it dropped one-run games the past two nights.
"It was huge for us and big for him, you know, to kind of get off the schneid," manager Brad Ausmus said. "He should be happy about it. It was a good day."
Cabrera's season has been affected by a bit of a power outage. His .446 slugging percentage is the lowest of his 15-year career, and his batting average, though up recently thanks to four straight multi-hit games, is also uncharacteristically low, at .280.
"It's a little bit more surprising when a guy like Miggy struggles for a long period of time, but it's certainly not unheard of," Ausmus said. "I wish I struggled and hit .270."
But Cabrera's lagging numbers don't mean he's not making great contact. He has barreled 56.3 percent of the balls he's put in play this season, which leads the Majors among hitters with at least 130 batted ball events, according to Statcast™.
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Cabrera -- who missed a few games in May with a strained oblique -- said his back has given him periodic problems at the plate, but he refused to use that as an excuse, saying, "You've got to stop being sorry about yourself."
No matter how much pain he's in on a given day, Cabrera is showing that he can fight through it and be the same force for Detroit he's been the past decade. An atypically slow start doesn't erase his numbers, which are likely to land him in the Hall of Fame. And as he proved on Thursday, he's still capable of putting a big swing on a ball when it counts.
"No matter how that guy's going, you always have a gut feeling when he comes to the plate," starter Justin Verlander said. "It's hard not to."
Jordan Horrobin is a reporter for MLB.com based in Detroit.