By Ashley Dunkak
Detroit Tigers superstar slugger Miguel Cabrera, who had knocked out 43 homers in the rest of the season before injuries derailed him, sent just one ball over the fence in September.
Going into the Game 5 of the ALDS, Cabrera did not have a home run in the postseason – not since Sept. 17, in fact, almost a month earlier.
Always one to deliver in big-game, high-drama moments, though, Cabrera broke his homerless streak Thursday with a two-run bomb that gave the Tigers a lead they would never relinquish. The offensive burst ultimately gave Detroit a crucial edge and played a huge part in helping the Tigers advance to the ALCS.
The homer appeared particularly impressive coming off rookie dynamo Sonny Gray, who shut out the Tigers in Game 2 of the series. Despite a solid, if not as impressive, outing, Gray gave one up to the game’s best hitter.
Manager Bob Melvin said he would look back at the fateful pitch to see what went wrong, and though Melvin said he was surprised by Cabrera’s power, he also felt it would just be a matter of time before Cabrera got a hold of one.
“I don’t know where the pitch was, but he has the ability to hit the ball on the outer third and still pull it when he’s looking to pull a ball,” Melvin said. ”It looked like his approach the whole series was to hit the ball up the middle and didn’t have the leg drive that he normally does.
“So a little surprised he pulled it for a home run,” Melvin added, “yet I don’t know how surprised you can be when Miguel Cabrera hits a home run.”
Cabrera hardly provided all the team’s offense, but his contributions definitely made the biggest splash given his injuries and his reputation.
“When you got Miguel Cabrera and Prince [Fielder] and Victor [Martinez], they could explode at any time, and Cabrera came through for us tonight,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “Prince swung the bat good, Victor swung the bat good, Jhonny swung the bat good. When we get these guys going, we’re a dangerous club.”