DETROIT (AP) – Miguel Cabrera homered for his 1,000th career hit. He homered for his 2,000th, too.
Number 3,000 didn’t travel quite as far, at least not in distance. What this sharply grounded single did was elevate him even more among the greatest hitters in baseball history.
Cabrera needed only one at-bat Saturday to deliver his long-awaited milestone hit, quickly reaching the mark as the Detroit Tigers routed the Colorado Rockies 13-0 in the opener of a day-night doubleheader.
”I think I’m still dreaming,” he said. ”To be able to see 3,000 up there, pretty special.”
Cabrera became the 33rd player in major league history and the first Venezuelan-born player to achieve the feat when he singled through the shift to right field. The hit came against fellow Venezuelan Antonio Senzatela and set off rousing cheers and chants at Comerica Park.
”When I saw the second baseman almost behind second base, I was like, `OK, you’ve got to shoot the ball that way,” he said.
Cabrera added a bases-loaded, two-run single in the sixth, then was pulled for a pinch-runner and drew another huge ovation as he trotted off.
He kept moving up the chart with a bloop single for hit No. 3,002 in the first inning of the nightcap.
Now in his 20th big league season, the 39-year-old Cabrera became just the seventh player with 500 home runs and 3,000 hits. He joined an exclusive club with Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Eddie Murray, Rafael Palmeiro, Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez.
Among those luminaries, only Cabrera, Aaron and Mays have a .300 career batting average.
”We just don’t know if we’re going to see another one in our baseball lifetime or our whole lifetime,” Detroit manager A.J. Hinch said. ”It’s a small juncture of his Hall of Fame career. The next thing will be when he gets inducted a few years from now.”
Cabrera was the seventh Latino player to reach the 3,000 mark. Pujols was the previous player to reach the mark, doing it in 2018.
Cabrera is the third player to get his 3,000th hit in a Tigers uniform, joining Ty Cobb and Al Kaline.
After getting his 2,999th career hit on Wednesday, he went 0 for 3 on Thursday. The Rockies-Tigers game scheduled for Friday night was rained out, putting history on hold for another day.
Cabrera fouled off the first pitch he saw and took a ball from Senzatela before his milestone swing.
He raised his right arm while heading to first base as right fielder Randal Grichuk retrieved the ball. The Comerica Park crowd of 37,566 roared and Rockies shortstop Jose Iglesias, who played with Cabrera on the Tigers, raced over to give his former teammate a big hug.
His current teammates then came streaming from the dugout to congratulate him before he went behind home plate to embrace his mother, wife, son and daughter on the field.
Cabrera scored three batters later on rookie Spencer Torkelson’s three-run homer as Detroit jumped to a 4-0 lead. Pinch-runner Eric Haase replaced Cabrera after his two-run single in the sixth.
Tigers starter Tarik Skubal (1-1) allowed five hits and struck out six in six innings. The two players who batted in front of Cabrera, Robbie Grossman and Austin Meadows, combined for five hits, five runs scored and three RBIs. Harold Castro added four hits and scored two runs.
”I couldn’t imagine the pressure he was under to try to get a hit,” Grossman said of Cabrera. ”I’m just so happy for him, his family and the country of Venezuela. It means so much more than just to us (his teammates).”
Senzatela (1-1) gave up five runs on 10 hits in five innings.
Detroit SS Javier Baez (right thumb soreness) took batting practice Saturday and could be activated from the 10-day injured list on Sunday. ”We’re kind of aiming for tomorrow if today goes well,” manager A.J. Hinch said.
The Tigers placed OF Victor Reyes (left quad strain) on the 10-day IL and recalled OF Derek Hill from Triple-A Toledo. … Tigers OF Daz Cameron will be recalled from Toledo and serve as the 29th man in the doubleheader prior to the second game. He was to start in right field. RHP Julian Fernandez will be the Rockies’ 29th man in Game 2 after a recall from the Albuquerque Isotopes.
Rockies: LHP Austin Gomber (0-1, 7.00 ERA) will start Game 2 of the doubleheader. Gomber gave up five runs (four earned) in 4 1/3 innings against the Chicago Cubs in his last outing on Sunday.
Tigers: RHP Beau Brieske (0-0, 0.00 ERA) will make his major-league debut in the nightcap. The 24-year-old right-hander has pitched two games for Triple-A Toledo this season, allowing five runs over 10 innings.