Detroit fans came for Cabrera's 3,000th hit. Instead, they got a chance to boo
Detroit — Tens of thousands of fans stood on their feet Thursday, cheering loudly and aiming their camera phones at Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera each time he stepped to the plate in anticipation that he would pound out his 3,000th career hit.
But that one magic base hit to make history didn't come to fruition against the New York Yankees, and his date with destiny was delayed amid the Tigers' 3-0 shutout victory.
Cabrera was hitless through three at bats when he came to the plate in the eighth inning with the Tigers leading 1-0 and runners on second and third. The fans went into a tizzy thinking and even verbalizing: This could be it.
But Yankees manager Aaron Boone decided to intentionally walk Cabrera and fill the bases with runners. This allowed Boone to leave left-handed pitcher Lucas Luetge in the game to pitch to Tigers left-handed hitting outfield Austin Meadows — a match-up that managers normally figure gives the advantage to the pitcher.
And the fans let the Yankees skipper have it as the home fans lustily booed and yelled, "Yankees suck." The loud booing continued through the next at bat, when Meadows hit a single to score two runners and ensure the victory.
The intentional walk ruined what many Cabrera fans hoped would be the 39-year-old slugger's day of deliverance.
Dan Little brought his wife and his three-year-old son to the game — his toddler's first baseball game.
Cabrera is a career .300 hitter who is one of the best to ever hit a baseball, especially from the right side of the plate, Little said.
The slugger would be one of “those guys to have 500 home runs, 3,000 hits and batting over .300 for a career.
Six players in Major League Baseball history have hit 500 home runs and collected 3,000 career hits. They are Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Eddie Murray, Rafael Palmeiro, Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez.
“It doesn’t get much more historic than that,” said Little, 43, of Flushing. ”He’s hitting over .300 for the year, so he’s due.”
For Lee Covert, Miguel Cabrera is a one-of-a-kind player and the high probability of him getting his 3,000th hit on a sunny Thursday could not be passed up.
“It be awesome,” said Covert, 62, of Livonia as he walked to his seat before Cabrera’s first at bat. “I’ve been following his career mostly since he became a Tiger and before that. To see him make history would be awesome.”
Covert, who wore a Cabrera jersey, said he was a big Al Kaline fan and followed Kaline's march to 3,000 hits when he played the game. Kaline got his 3,000 hit on July 17, 1974.
“To be able to see (Cabrera’s hit) it in person would be special,” he added.
William Trent, 63, of Detroit, also attended "to see some history."
“He’s been here for years and years and he’s put a lot of time in for the Tigers and he’s the only one left,” Trent said with a laugh about Cabrera, who was on the team that lost the 2012 World Series to the San Francisco Giants.
Ryan Doty, 30, of Detroit, also wore a Cabrera jersey and stood up for his first at bat, when the slugger hit a fly ball for an out.
“It jumps off his bat always, so when people see it and it’s up in the air, you get excited,”
Doty said. “We know he feels like his fans deserve it.”
“He’s probably in the conversation of the best right-handed hitter of all time,” Doty said.
Madison Freitas, 19, of Southgate had been following Cabrera since she was a little girl and with the added benefit of her father being a rabid Tigers fan.
So she came to the ballpark and nabbed outfield seats with her two younger sisters to try to witness history.
“Cabrera’s always been one of my favorite players and I’ve been watching him play since I was little,” Freitas said. “...So right now it’s his big moment. And I want to witness that.”