Cabrera launched his 13th home run of the season and the 500th of his career to tie the ball game at one in the top half of the sixth inning Sunday afternoon off of left-handed starting pitcher Steven Matz.
After hitting his 499th career home run in Baltimore a little bit over a week ago, Detroit Tigers manager A.J. Hinch opted to sit Cabrera in the final game of the series as the club was headed home to square off against the Cleveland Indians and Los Angeles Angels.
Tigers fans and the organization had hoped Cabrera would hit no. 500 at home in front of a packed Comerica Park crowd, and he nearly did as he put a charge into a ball that died on the warning track against the Angels. I suspect ownership was hoping for the same result. Still, surely Christopher Ilitch enjoyed the revenue bump during that last homestand, as Tigers’ fans packed the joint hoping to catch a glimpse of history.
More from Detroit Jock City
- Tigers Sign Manager A.J. Hinch to Long-Term Extension
- Lions vs. Bears Week 14 Opening Odds Disrespect Detroit
- Former Tigers Celebrate Jim Leyland Hall of Fame Call
- This Pistons Team Could be the Worst in Detroit Sports History
- 4 Free Agents Tigers Should Sign During Winter Meetings
Miguel Cabrera became just the 28th player in Major League Baseball history to hit 500 career home runs.
I was very fortunate to be able to travel to Toronto for Sunday’s game. My wife and I had a planned vacation set in the area for the weekend. About a week ago, we decided we would make the hour and a half drive from where we were staying to catch Sunday’s contest with the Jays before heading home, a decision I will treasure for the rest of my life.
After purchasing Sunday’s tickets leading up to the weekend series, I scanned over the Blue Jays’ projected starting pitchers and noticed that a trio of left-handers was expected to start.
Although Cabrera is not the player he once was, I felt there would be a good opportunity for him to hit no. 500 in Toronto. The park plays big gap-to-gap and is 400 feet straight away center; it’s only 328 feet down each line.
Miguel Cabrera can still spray the baseball to all fields, but as he’s aged, he’s hitting more of his home runs to right-center. It’s a sign he’s a bit late on the fastball, mostly because his hands are a bit slower these days, as you would expect from a 38-year old.
Instead, Cabrera struggled mightily all series long until Sunday.
Although on vacation, I continued to monitor Cabrera’s at-bats and the teams’ overall success like usual, as you could imagine, with a full menu of engagements, arrangements, and planned dinners, I wasn’t glued to the television as I would have been if I were not vacationing.
Over the course of the weekend, our friends who we had been traveling with (also Tigers fans) continued to say, ‘he’s going to do it on Sunday, he’s waiting to do it on Sunday’ knowing how excited we’d be to witness history.
Here’s one more look at the blast.
After Cabrera’s first two disappointing at-bat’s I wasn’t very confident he’d be able to figure out Matz, who seemed to be cruising for the Jays.
Our seats were just behind and to the right of home plate. As Cabrera put a charge into that baseball, my wife and I started to rise from our seats. I vividly remember her yelling, ‘is this it’ and I quickly said, ‘it has a chance.’ I’ll be honest; I don’t remember the next few seconds because we were jumping and cheering.
I will say this, the Toronto fans were first class, except for the one fella sitting a row behind us who didn’t quite understand what all the fuss was about. ‘It’s just 500,’ he barked. There is always one bad apple in the bunch, right?
The nearly 15,000 fans (Ontario’s COVID-19 limit) quickly cheered Miguel Cabrera after a quick groan realizing Detroit tied the game. As Cabrera stepped onto home plate, the Detroit dugout exultantly greeted the future Hall Of Famer; the fans started cheering ‘Miggy, Miggy, Miggy,’ and shortly thereafter, Cabrera emerged from the dugout for a well-deserved curtain call.
We a very grateful to be a part of such an iconic moment in Detroit sports history. I can’t say I’ve witnessed anything better at a sporting event in person. I’m not sure if the goosebumps are permanent or what; if not, I assume it will take a few days for them to subside.
I’ve been fortunate enough to attend a plethora of Red Wings, Pistons, and Tigers jerseys retirement ceremonies. I’ve been to Stanley Cup Finals games, and Tigers playoff games but never a clinching contest. Let me know your favorite in-person sports memory in the comments, I’m curious to hear your story.
Now that the 500th home run has been reached, we’re on to the 3,000 hit watch. Miguel Cabrera sits just 45 knocks shy of becoming just the seventh player in MLB history to have 500 home runs and 3,000 hits. He’s preparing to join some elite company alongside Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Eddie Murray, Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriquez, and Rafael Palmeiro.
If he were able to do it in 2021, he’d become the first player in MLB history to achieve both in the same season.