Cabrera solidifies batting title; Tigers clinch last place
CHICAGO (AP) — Miguel Cabrera virtually locked up the batting title with his best hitting performance in five weeks.
Cabrera ended the longest homerless drought of his career and finished with three hits as the Detroit Tigers lost 4-3 to the Chicago White Sox on Saturday night.
Leury Garcia singled home the winning run in the bottom of the ninth. Pinch-hitter J.B. Shuck doubled to tie the game in the inning.
It has been an up-and-down season for Cabrera. He entered Saturday batting .218 over a 29-game stretch, causing his average to drop 36 points from .370.
He broke out of the slump with his first three-hit game since Aug. 25, and ended his homerless drought at 104 at-bats.
Cabrera’s 18th home run deflected off the top of the wall in center field just past Adam Eaton’s reach for a one-run Detroit lead in the sixth. Cabrera raised his AL-best average to .338 while Boston’s Xander Bogaerts was hitless in four at-bats to drop to .320. Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said Cabrera will likely not play Sunday in the season finale.
"He’s very gifted with the bat," Ausmus said. "I haven’t come across a hitter like Miggy."
Cabrera, who missed six weeks in July and August with a calf injury, said he wasn’t fully healthy down the stretch.
"I’m not able to use my legs like I used to, so I’ve got to change my approach," Cabrera said. "Last two or three years I did the same thing."
The Tigers took a 3-2 lead into the bottom of ninth after an RBI double by pinch-hitter James McCann scored Rajai Davis.
Melky Cabrera and Alexei Ramirez had RBI doubles for Chicago.
Ramirez tied the game with a double in the sixth. Cabrera doubled to give the White Sox a one-run lead in the first.
Nate Jones (2-2) struck out one for the victory. Neftali Feliz (3-4) allowed two runs while only getting two outs for his seventh blown save.
"At this point does it really matter?" Ausmus said when asked about his confidence in Feliz. "We got one day left. We got to try to find a way to win this last game."
Detroit is 2 1-2 games behind Chicago and will finish in last place in the division after winning the Central the last four seasons. Excluding the 1981 and 1994 strike-shortened seasons, the Tigers are the seventh team since division play began in 1969 to go from first to last.
Garcia was an unlikely hero for the White Sox after entering the game 2 for 13.
"Guys are just happy for him," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "To come up in a big spot like that and be able to do it is fun."
RETURN OF AN ACE
Justin Verlander allowed two runs and struck out nine in six innings. He has thrown a quality start in 12 of his last 14 outings after he missed the first two months of the season due to a right triceps strain. Since July 24, Verlander has an AL-best 2.27 ERA. "I think he has shown his doubters that he’s still a top-of-the rotation guy," Ausmus said.
Tigers: DH Victor Martinez was out of the lineup for a fourth straight game Saturday after he injured his left quadriceps Monday against Texas. "I’d say he’s day-to-day, but really there’s only one day left, so he’s `day," Ausmus said. . RHP Alfredo Simon revealed after throwing eight innings on Friday that he has played hurt all year. Ausmus said he was unaware of the condition, which has been diagnosed as patellar tendinosis in Simon’s left knee. "I guess for as many DL stints as we see nowadays in the big leagues I think a player should be applauded for gutting through," Ausmus said.
Tigers: LHP Daniel Norris (2-2, 4.09 ERA) will start the season finale Sunday. He threw five scoreless innings against Chicago on Sept. 22.
White Sox: RHP Frankie Montas (0-1, 5.73 ERA) will make his second start. He allowed six runs in three innings in his debut Sept. 23 against Detroit.