Minneapolis — Miguel Cabrera hit a laser home run. Max Scherzer earned the win in his one shutout inning.
And if the Tigers make it out of the American League this year, Tuesday’s 5-3 All-Star Game victory at Target Field will give them home-field advantage at Comerica Park for the World Series.
“Obviously that’s something that’s going to be nice when we get to that point, but right now it’s a long ways away,” said second baseman Ian Kinsler, who went 0-for-1 and played two innings in the field. “There’s still a lot of games left to be played, still a lot of things that can happen, and we’re going to do everything in our power to put ourselves in that World Series. Hopefully then that home-field advantage will be something that we use.”
In the bottom of the first inning, Cabrera crushed the 0-1 pitch from National League starter Adam Wainwright, a line drive two-run shot to left field. Cabrera’s home run was the first by a Tigers player in the All-Star Game since Lou Whitaker in 1986.
For Cabrera, the timing couldn’t have been better. Earlier Tuesday, he denied telling a USA Today reporter that he’s still affected by an offseason groin surgery, which would be a logical explanation for his recent slugging struggles. He hasn’t hit a home run since June 30, and his 14 thus far is well behind his typical pace.
Cabrera’s no-doubt homer looked more fitting for Monday’s Home Run Derby than the first inning of the All-Star Game. Wainwright, the Cardinals ace, hasn’t allowed a home run since May 30.
“It’s funny, he’s been talking about how he’s not hitting any home runs this year, he’s got a bunch of doubles and he’s a doubles hitter this year,” Kinsler said. “And his first at-bat in the All-Star Game he goes deep. Who knows what this guy can do at any moment? In the second half of the season he could be putting up the power numbers that he always puts up.”
Cabrera’s home run scored Angels star Mike Trout, the game’s Most Valuable Player, and gave the AL a 3-0 lead.
Cabrera finished 1-for-3, lining out to short in the third against Reds starter Alfredo Simon and flying out to center in the fifth against Nationals reliever Tyler Clippard.
Scherzer, the reigning A.L. Cy Young winner, pitched a scoreless fifth inning and was the winning pitcher. He struck out Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig and Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, but gave up a deep triple to right center by Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.
“It’s making pitches against really good hitters,” Scherzer said. “You have to believe that you’re better than them. Utmost respect for all the players on the NL, but at the end of the day, when you’re on the mound you have to believe that your stuff’s better and attack them.”
Prior to entering the game, Scherzer said he did his typical warm-up, but he let it fly, hitting 97 mph.
“Coming out of the pen, it’s let it go, let it eat, and it’s a little different,” he said. “Fortunately I was able to throw enough strikes and get my off-speed over and was able to have success tonight.”
Scherzer also benefited from a nice defensive play by Cabrera, who made nice catch on a high throw from A’s third baseman Josh Donaldson and tagged Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen.
Scherzer is just the fourth Tigers pitcher to earn an All-Star Game victory, joining Tommy Bridges (1939), Virgil Trucks (1949) and Jim Bunning (1957).
Kinsler entered as a pinch hitter for Houston’s Jose Altuve in the seventh, but struck out against Braves closer Craig Kimbrel.
“I faced him in the last All-Star Game (in 2012), and he struck me out with a fastball,” Kinsler said. “This time he gave me a little dose of the slider.”