Cabrera went 4-for-5 with three RBIs on the day after receiving his Silver Slugger and batting title awards from last season before the game. The home run made him the ninth player in MLB history to record 2,000 hits before the age of 31 and the seventh-fastest.
"What else can you say about Miguel as a hitter?" manager Brad Ausmus said. "Eventually, you run out of adjectives to describe how great of a hitter he is, not just in the context of today's game, but in the context of the history of baseball. I've only been here for a short period of time. I'm already running out of words to describe him."
Anibal Sanchez got the start for Detroit, his first action against live MLB hitters since March 12. A combination of posterior shoulder inflammation and a cortisone shot in March coupled with rain kept pushing back Sanchez's opportunities.
He allowed two runs and three baserunnners in the opening frame, but settled down from there. A rain delay in the bottom of the fourth inning didn't end his day, but an extended frame from the Tigers' bats after play resumed did.
"It really was a matter of how long he was down," Ausmus said. "Going into the restart of the game, he was going to pitch, but our bottom half of the inning was so long and they made a pitching change. We just decided he had been off the mound for too long of a period of time.
"Considering he had the shoulder issue in Spring Training, his pitch count didn't get over 70 [mph] much, we just felt like we didn't want to push him today. I'm sure he would have wanted to go back out, but it was just a situation we were thinking more long-term."
Drew Smyly came on in long relief for his first work of the season and threw three scoreless innings to record the win.
Sanchez finished with 69 pitches, allowing two runs, two hits and three walks.
"I felt good today and tried to get it back after the first inning," Sanchez said. "I just had to get the ball down. I knew I threw a lot of pitches in the first inning."
The Tigers got on the board in the second inning on a double from Nick Castellanos. It was his first Major League RBI and extra-base hit.
"It feels good to get it out of the way," he said. "It also feels good because it got us on the board. I'm happy with it. I'm happy we got the win."
Castellanos had a learning moment later in the inning when he tried to score his first Major League run.
Castellanos over-ran third base on an Ian Kinsler single, running through a stop sign. When he got his head up, he stopped, but couldn't get back in time and was tagged out. Ausmus said it was simply a matter of Castellanos not getting his head up in time.
"I was so excited to try to score on Kinsler's hit," Castellanos said. "I was anticipating it so much. As soon as he got that hit, I was like, 'This is it, I'm scoring.' I put my head down and stomped a couple steps through the hold sign."
The fourth-inning rain delay came one pitch into Rajai Davis' second at-bat. After a 34-minute wait, Davis hit a three-run shot to left field to push the Tigers' lead to 6-2. It was Davis' first hit, RBI and run scored with the Tigers. Davis went 1-for-3 and was hit by a pitch.
Torii Hunter hit a solo home run two batters later for his first hit of the season after an 0-for-9 start. Hunter went 3-for-4 and was also hit by a pitch.
Cabrera's two-run homer in the eighth extended the lead to 10-2. Some Tigers players knew it was No. 2,000 when he hit it. Some knew Cabrera was close to the milestone, but didn't realize until later.
"It's pretty crazy," catcher Alex Avila said. "To have that many hits at his age, it's pretty special. I hope everyone understands how special it is."