'Incredible' Miguel Cabrera, Alex Faedo come up big as Tigers sweep away Pirates
Pittsburgh — Miguel Cabrera is going to have to start speaking for himself pretty soon because everybody else is running out of ways to explain what he's been able to do at age 39.
"There's 3,000-plus hits there," manager AJ Hinch said, shrugging. "He's incredible in these big moments."
Cabrera lined a single up the middle in the eighth inning Wednesday, scoring Harold Castro from second and breaking a 1-1 tie as the Tigers completed the sweep of the short series with the Pirates 3-1 at PNC Park.
BOX SCORE: Tigers 3, Pirates 1
"He doesn't try to do too much," Hinch said. "He gets a pitch and he hits the ball hard. He's an incredible hitter still to this day."
In 14 games since May 22, Cabrera is hitting .346 with six RBIs, three of them either tied or won the game in the eighth inning or later.
For him to be in that situation, though, the Tigers got a little help from the video replay room.
They'd been held hitless since the third inning until Castro led off the eighth with a ringing single to left against right-handed reliever Wil Crowe. Jonathan Schoop followed liner into shallow right-center.
Pirates center fielder Bryan Reynolds made a terrific diving attempt for the ball and umpire Chris Segal called it a catch.
"That's a pivotal play in a close game," Hinch said. "To the naked eye, that's 50-50 on what happens. We knew they'd called him out. We got a quick decision (from the clubhouse video room) which was key and we challenged it.
"But even when the replay showed up on the big board, I wasn't 100 percent sure they were going to be able to overturn it."
There was one replay angle that showed the ball hitting the ground before Reynolds secured it in his glove.
Cabrera drove a 1-1 two-seam fastball (93 mph) straight up the middle and Castro scored without a play at the plate.
After relievers Andrew Chafin, Will Vest and Michael Fulmer dispatched the Pirates in three hitless innings with five strikeouts, Gregory Soto was summoned for the second straight game.
Soto worked around a walk and a single in the ninth for his 12th save.
The win put a bow on another good day at the office for Tigers’ rookie starter Alex Faedo, who allowed one run and three hits over five innings, equaling his career-best seven strikeouts.
"Alex was good, and really good early," Hinch said. "I loved how he responded to not having the lead anymore. He hung in there and won some big at-bats and he had plenty in the tank when I took him out. It was nice to see him put up another big outing."
When you achieve something that hasn’t been done in the big leagues since 2006, something that’d been done by just two others in the history of the game, you’ve done something special.
More: 'I just pitch': Tigers' Alex Lange's unorthodox approach keeping hitters guessing
This was Faedo's seventh straight start since he was recalled from Triple-A Toledo that he allowed two runs or less. According to research by Elias Sports Bureau, he is the first pitcher to go five or more innings and allow two runs or less in his first seven starts in the big leagues since Jered Weaver in 2006.
He is the third to do it since 1893. And if he gets one more, Faedo will tie Fernando Valenzuela for the MLB record (eight).
"It's definitely cool to look back on that after the game," Faedo said. "But I'm not going to overthink it. I'm just going to try to do my thing and try to execute and stay ahead of hitters. It's obviously cool to see.
"It's really cool for my family to see. They sent me a couple of things to my phone. They are excited for me. But it just tells me I've been consistent and giving these guys a chance to win."
Pretty heady stuff for a guy in his first full year of competition after Tommy John surgery. His only mistake, if you could call it that, was an 0-2 change-up that Jack Suwinski slammed into the seats in right in the fourth.
"It was a good reminder that you've got to be smart," Faedo said. "You have to be able to execute. I think it was the right pitch, I just have to do a better on 0-2 and maybe not throw something in the zone."
The Tigers are going to keep Faedo on a tight leash in terms of his workload. Coming off the surgery and not throwing a pitch in competition since 2019, his innings and pitches will be strictly governed.
"He's going to have some restrictions just based on where he's at and what we're trying to do with him," Hinch said. "We're asking a lot out of him and he's responded well. Physically he's in a good place and mentally he's in a good place.
"But we can't forget that we're developing a pitcher at this level coming off major surgery."
The third star of the game — not counting the bullpen, which again was spotless, four scoreless innings from Andrew Chafin, Will Vest, Michael Fulmer and Soto — was right-fielder Daz Cameron.
Cameron delivered two, two-out RBI knocks, giving catcher Eric Haase a pretty good workout in the process. He tripled Haase home from first in the second inning and doubled him home from first in the eighth.
"It's good to come up in those situations and get some pitches to hit and be able to execute and put the barrel on the ball," Cameron said. "It means a lot for me to go out and know my continuous work is showing. Glad I could contribute to the team today."
Afterwards he was taking some good-natured grief from teammate Kody Clemens. Cameron stole a fly ball from him in the fourth inning, a ball that was hit to left field where Clemens was camped and waiting for it.
"He was looking at me in the dugout like, 'Come on, man,'" Cameron said, laughing. "I said, 'Hey man, no hard feelings, I want to cover everything out there I possibly can."