May 24, 2016 Clear, 66F

MLB: Tigers' Cabrera following Triple Crown with big start

DETROIT – Miguel Cabrera raised his right arm as he rounded first base, a surprised grin on his face.

These days, every swing by the Detroit slugger seems like a potential home run, but the reigning Triple Crown winner had to admit this one was a little lucky. Cabrera’s drive looked like a deep flyout until it popped out of Michael Bourn’s glove and over the wall in Cleveland.

When you’re going good, you’re going good.

“When he’s up and I’m on base, it’s like HD,” Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter said. “When I’m on the bench, I’m watching, no matter if I struck out or grounded out or popped out, I’m still watching. I’ve been playing 17 years, and I’m learning from him.”

Even when the Tigers lose, Cabrera can put on quite a show, like when he hit three homers last weekend in an 11-8 defeat at Texas.

Cabrera can be a bit reticent when asked to talk about himself and his success, but these days, the numbers speak for themselves. He didn’t emerge as a Triple Crown threat until late last season, when his terrific finish lifted Detroit to a second straight AL Central title. Now, he’s picked up where he left off.

During that three-homer game against the Rangers, Cabrera was intentionally walked with runners on first and second, a rarity for any hitter.

The move didn’t work. Prince Fielder – an accomplished power hitter in his own right – followed with a bases-loaded double.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire doesn’t enjoy putting a hitter on first, but he wants his pitchers to work around Cabrera in certain situations.

“Unintentional-intentional, I like that one better,” Gardenhire said. “Prince is going to have to get it done, which is ugly in itself because he gets it done an awful lot too. But we know Cabrera’s the man right now.”

The Twins showed up in Detroit for a four-game series that started Thursday. In the first inning of the first game – only a few hours after Gardenhire had said Minnesota’s pitchers needed to be careful – Cabrera hit a two-run homer. It was the fourth straight game he’d gone deep.

“You can’t pitch to him,” Hunter said. “He can hit the inside pitch. He can hit the outside pitch. He can hit the up and in. He can go down the line to right field or down the line to left field. He can go all over the field. And he’s smart. He’s a smart hitter. He’s going to battle at the plate.”

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