Cabrera homers twice, powers Tigers to win
Detroit — Brad Ausmus joked before the game that Miguel Cabrera used one of his old bats during batting practice Monday.
“I couldn’t get any hits with it, I figured if anybody could squeeze hits out of it, it’d be Miggy,” Ausmus said. “There are plenty of hits still in it.”
Cabrera used his own bat during the game, but between the day off from starting Sunday and the light-hearted batting practice, something clicked.
Cabrera, who came in hitting .206 with one home run and just four extra-base hits, went 4-for-4, slammed two home runs and drove in four runs as the Tigers ended a four-game skid with a 7-3 win over the A’s.
“Miggy gets all the credit,” Ausmus said afterward. “With the exception of him using my old bat in batting practice. He’s still got it. If someone gets in a slump, maybe they can pass it on to the next player.”
It was apparently Cabrera’s idea to take some swings with Ausmus’ old bat. And it turns out, equipment manager Jim Schmakel still had some of Ausmus’ bats, circa 2000, in the storeroom.
“He said something to me,” Ausmus said. “I can’t remember if he said he was hitting like me or he needs one of my bats. And I said, ‘Hey, I’ve got one.’ He just used it for one round of BP.”
Cabrera homered in his first at-bat, a liner into the seats down the right-field line. It was his first home run in 50 at-bats. He doubled down the line in left field in his second at-bat and then keyed a four-run fifth inning with a three-run home run, also to right field.
Victor Martinez followed with a long home run to right-center field.
All that damage was against A’s starter Kendall Graveman. Cabrera singled in the sixth, his first four-hit game since last April. He raised his batting average 48 points.
The Tigers' seven runs was just one fewer than they mustered in the previous five games combined.
“Every team goes through spells like this,” Ausmus said. “Even the teams with the best records will have gone through spells like this. It sucks to go through it, but you have to believe the team you felt you had coming out of spring training, a team you felt was going to score a lot of runs, is still that team.
“It’s the same group of guys and four losses in a row doesn’t change that.”
It was more than enough offense for Tigers starter Jordan Zimmermann, who improved to 4-0.
He kept the A’s off the board for five innings — running his consecutive scoreless innings streak to 24 1/3. That is the longest streak to start a season by any pitcher in Tigers’ history.
But, he came one inning shy of becoming the first player in major league history to start a season with a new team and pitch at least six scoreless innings in each of his first four starts.
“I had a good little streak going, unfortunately it ended tonight,” Zimmermann said. “Hopefully I can start a new one.”
The streak ended ugly in the sixth. Marcus Semien led off with a routine fly ball to center field that Tyler Collins lost in the lights. Compounding the problem, left fielder Justin Upton didn’t pick up the ball cleanly and Semien ended up at third.
It was scored a double and error on Upton. Collins, hearing it from the crowd, responded with an obscene gesture.
Billy Burns followed with an RBI single to end the streak.
The A’s scored two unearned runs off Zimmermann in the seventh — unearned because of his own error, dropping an easy throw from Cabrera at first base against Coco Crisp.
“That was embarrassing,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve ever done that. I don’t know what happened. I just flat-out dropped it. I couldn’t throw the next pitch fast enough to get everyone’s mind off it.”
Zimmermann wound up going 6 2/3 innings, giving up seven hits and just one earned run.
The Tigers, without leadoff hitter Ian Kinsler (ill), pounded out 12 hits, including two infield singles by Nick Castellanos. Castellanos also had a stolen base for the first time since June of 2014. Mike Aviles, who filled in for Kinsler at second, had two hits and an RBI.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s April or September, you don’t want to ever lose four in a row,” Aviles said. “You want to right the ship at all costs. Fortunately we were able to right the ship tonight and hopefully we will take the momentum into tomorrow and then try to win the series.”