Cabrera homers, Tigers sweep Mets
Imagine what Miguel Cabrera might be doing if he were completely healthy.
The reigning AL MVP hit a mammoth homer, Rick Porcello enjoyed a happy homecoming and the Detroit Tigers polished off a three-game sweep of the New York Mets with an 11-3 victory Sunday.
Cabrera’s two-run drive was his 42nd long ball of the season and 10th in 19 games. He went 3 for 4 with a walk, raising his batting average to a major league-best .360, and finished the series 7 for 13 with two homers and five RBIs.
"It’s a lot of fun to watch," Porcello said. "You’ve got to remind yourself not to take what he’s done for granted, because he’s just that special of a player and he makes it look so easy day in and day out. But, he’s unbelievable. He’s the best hitter on the planet, hands down."
Hobbled by nagging injuries to his hip, side and knees, Cabrera jogged slowly down the line all weekend. When he tried to dive for a ball at third base Sunday, it certainly appeared to hurt.
That hardly slowed him at the plate, though.
"He’s the best I’ve seen, by far," teammate Andy Dirks said. "The things that he can do, you just sit back and say, `Wow.’"
Dirks put Detroit ahead with a two-run homer, and the AL Central leaders improved to 12-5 in interleague play. They have won 34 of 49 overall, the best mark in the American League since July 2.
Porcello (10-7) pitched seven innings of four-hit ball before the Tigers broke it open with a seven-run ninth. Dirks drew a bases-loaded walk during the outburst, which included RBI singles by Victor Martinez and Ramon Santiago.
Travis d’Arnaud hit his first major league homer for the Mets, who have scored five runs during a four-game slide. They were outhit 33-7 in the final two games of the series.
"The Tigers aren’t in the position they’re in without having an outstanding offense. They pitched us tough. We didn’t get a lot of guys on," New York manager Terry Collins said. "Right now we are not swinging the bats very well. The Tigers played great and we didn’t."
Dillon Gee (9-9) lost for only the third time in 16 starts. He entered with a 2.27 ERA since May 30, the fourth-best mark in the majors during that span.
The 24-year-old Porcello, who grew up a Mets fan nearby in New Jersey, left 17 tickets for family and friends. He didn’t disappoint them, either, bouncing back from a loss to Minnesota and moving to 6-1 in his past nine outings.
"It was definitely a little special feeling," Porcello said. "I’m glad we got a win for them."
The right-hander was hit hard in his only other start against the Mets on June 28, 2011, in Detroit. He pitched at Yankee Stadium a little more than two weeks ago, taking a no-decision in Detroit’s 4-3 defeat.
With the victory by Porcello, all five members of the Tigers’ rotation have reached double digits in wins.
The Tigers were trailing by one when Martinez singled off Gee to start the sixth. Dirks, who had three of Detroit’s 13 hits Saturday off All-Star ace Matt Harvey, drove an 0-1 slider to right-center for his eighth home run.
"I thought we probably strung as good at-bats together this series as we have all year throughout the lineup," manager Jim Leyland said. "This sounds crazy, but I think the matchup yesterday really got the hitters pumped up because they knew it could be a real tough day."
Gee lasted six innings for the 11th straight start, the longest streak of his career, and 15th time in 16 outings. But he matched a season high by giving up 10 hits — five in the sixth.
Austin Jackson opened the game with a soft single and Cabrera launched a 2-0 pitch toward left field, where it cleared a railing in the second deck and sailed through a triangular opening beneath the restaurant windows.
"When the man gets hot, he’s hot," Martinez said.
The drive induced a collective gasp from the crowd of 32,084 on Tom Seaver bobblehead day and gave Cabrera a major league-high 128 RBIs. Trying to become the first player to win consecutive Triple Crowns, he is four homers behind Baltimore slugger Chris Davis.
"If one guy’s got the talent to do that, it’s him," Santiago said. "The guy’s a horse."
A broken-bat single by Daniel Murphy with two outs in the third cut it to 2-1, and d’Arnaud put the Mets ahead one inning later with a two-run shot that barely cleared the shortened fence in left-center.
Detroit reliever Bruce Rondon worked around a leadoff walk in the eighth to protect a 4-3 lead.
NOTES: Tigers SS Jose Iglesias sat out again with a sore left elbow after getting hit by a pitch Friday. He was replaced by Santiago, who had three hits and made two nice plays to rob Ike Davis. … Martinez, normally a DH, started at catcher for the second time in the series. Martinez, who missed last season following knee surgery, was behind the plate Friday for the first time in more than two years. … Detroit begins a seven-game homestand Monday night against Oakland. … Collins rested 3B Wilmer Flores (ankle) partly because he plans to play the rookie at 2B one day this week.