Fielder, Cabrera each homer twice in rout
DETROIT — The Thunder Cats are for real.
Or are they the Thunder Twins?
No matter what you call them, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder gave Tigers fans a taste what to expect this season in Saturday's 10-0 rout of the Red Sox. Cabrera and Fielder each homered twice, including their first back-to-back shots in the fifth inning, and drove in a total of five runs.
The performance was so impressive that, midway through the game, FOX Sports Detroit's Shannon Hogan started a contest to give the duo an official nickname. "Thunder Cats" and "Thunder Twins" were the finalists, with the winner to be determined at a future date.
It didn't take long for the show to get started. Austin Jackson drew a walk to start the first, and Cabrera launched a one-out shot off the back wall of the Red Sox bullpen. Fielder then made it 3-0 by leading off the fourth with his first Tigers homer.
That had the crowd of 44,710 on its feet, and things only got better. Delmon Young followed Fielder with an infield single and Alex Avila made it 5-0 with his first of the season.
Things didn't get any better for Josh Beckett in the next inning, as Cabrera and Fielder came up with two outs and hit back-to-back homers for the first, and probably not last, time.
"That felt great," said Fielder, who was playing his 1,000th career game. "The crowd here has been unbelievable for the first two games. They were just as loud as they were on Opening Day."
As usual, though, Jim Leyland wasn't going to get too excited.
"They've been hitting homers long before they started playing together," he said. "I'm happy they both hit two homers, and I'm happy we won the game, but I'm not going to get carried away."
Leyland had another reason to be subdued. Less than an hour after the final pitch, the team announced that starting pitcher Doug Fister was heading to the 15-day disabled list with a strained left costochondral (rib cage) strain. Fister didn't allow a run, but left the game with two out in the fourth inning. Brayan Villarreal will replace him on the roster, but the team has not announced who will replace Fister in the rotation.
To make things worse, Detroit's planned fifth starter, Drew Smyly, lasted just 1 2/3 innings in his Triple-A debut. Smyly, who was getting a start with Toledo in preparation for his major-league debut, gave up three runs on three hits and two walks.
Because of Fister's injury, Duane Below was thrown into the game on very short notice in the fourth inning. He made a case to get himself into the rotation, pitching 2 1/3 shutout innings for his first major-league win.
Below's post-game interviews were interrupted when several of his teammates surprised him with a beer shower.
"I wasn't expecting that – I didn't even see them coming," he said. "It's cold, but it's a moment I will never forget."
It was that kind of party atmosphere all day for the players and for the fans, but the most entertaining moment might have come when Jarrod Saltalamacchia lined what looked like a fifth-inning single toward leftfield.
Cabrera, though, made a diving catch to draw a standing ovation from the sold-out crowd and laughter from his teammates.
"Did you see that? Everyone was surprised when I did that," he said. "These guys were surprised, you guys were surprised and the fans were surprised. That was a nice play."
Cabrera then walked toward the showers, but stopped and looked back at Fielder's locker.
"Pow," he called. "1-2-3-4. Pow!"