Miggy continues to amaze: 3,000 hits in '21?

Future Hall of Famer extends hit streak to nine at-bats before first K of September

September 11th, 2021

DETROIT -- made an out for the first time since Tuesday. He struck out for the first time in September. But while Cabrera’s hit streak ended at nine at-bats, the Rays’ trouble with Tigers hitters was just getting started.

For four innings Friday night at Comerica Park, Cabrera was the only Tiger who could hit Rays starter Michael Wacha. By the time Detroit was done with Tampa Bay’s bullpen, a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch to looked like the Rays’ best-case scenario. The Tigers didn’t get that call, but two pitches later, Schoop got a hanging slider from Andrew Kittredge and cleared the bases with his 20th home run of the season and his fifth career grand slam, powering Detroit to a 10-4 win.

It was a big victory against the team with the best record in the American League. It also continues a quickening pace toward 3,000 career hits for Cabrera, now 27 away with 20 games to go. What seemed like a milestone for next season now could be a race that goes down to this season’s end.

The more Cabrera slashes line drives around the outfield like he has in his last few games, the closer it looks.

“To watch him hit nine hits straight, you see he’s still got it,” Schoop said. “Every time he steps in the box, it’s Miguel Cabrera stepping in the box.”

Cabrera entered the game with hits in his previous seven at-bats, the longest such streak of his career. He had hit just about every kind of pitch the Pirates threw him in Pittsburgh, and he kept it up Friday against Wacha.

Wacha challenged Cabrera with a 94 mph fastball in a 2-1 count in his first at-bat leading off the second inning. Cabrera crushed it, sending a 109.8 mph line drive into center field. It was his highest exit velocity of the streak, and his fifth-hardest hit of the season.

Wacha got on a roll from there, retiring Detroit’s next eight batters. He struck out five consecutive Tigers when Cabrera stepped back to the plate with two outs in the fourth. Again, Wacha put a fastball in the zone, this time with a 1-0 count. Again, Cabrera lined it into the outfield, this time an opposite-field single to right for his 2,973rd career hit.

“It’s ridiculous,” Akil Baddoo said. “It’s definitely a beautiful thing when he’s on a roll like that. You can’t stop him when he’s seeing the ball like that.”

Cabrera had the longest streak of at-bats with a hit since fellow Tiger Walt Dropo tied the Major League record of 12 in 1952. Cabrera also had the longest streak by a Major League player age 38 or older since another Tigers great, Ty Cobb, hit in nine consecutive at-bats in May 1925.

“It feels impossible when you see how good pitching is, and obviously defenses,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “Miggy’s not going to leg out any infield singles, so he’s got to get clean hits. And he’s swung the bat extraordinarily well to all parts of the field.”

Cabrera stepped to the plate in the sixth inning with a chance to push the streak into double digits and push Detroit in front with runners at the corners, but he had to contend with the nasty slider of J.P. Feyereisen. Cabrera hadn’t swung and missed at a pitch in his previous six at-bats since a David Bednar curveball Tuesday night in Pittsburgh, but he did so on three pitches against Feyereisen, whose 1-2 slider sent Cabrera’s check swing far enough to draw the call on appeal from first-base umpire James Hoye.

Ironically, the offensive onslaught began after Cabrera’s hit streak ended. Jeimer Candelario followed Cabrera’s strikeout with a two-run double off the center-field wall, his 40th double of the year, giving the Tigers a 3-1 lead. Ji-Man Choi’s bases-clearing double off José Cisnero pushed the Rays back in front in the seventh, but Niko Goodrum’s leadoff double quickly put Pete Fairbanks on his way to the same predicament.

Schoop argued that Fairbanks’ 0-1 sinker grazed his leg. He was so emphatic about it that Hinch signaled for replay without checking with his crew. However, replay review upheld the call.

Two pitches later, the Tigers were glad it did. Schoop fouled off a slider for a 1-2 count, but he didn’t miss the next one in nearly the same spot.

“I was trying to get a ball in the air and see the ball up,” Schoop said. “Fortunately, he left one right up, a little bit outside, and I put a good swing on it.”