Tigers win as Cabrera continues Crown chase

BY foxsports • September 22, 2012

DETROIT — It's kind of an odd time to be Miguel Cabrera right now, yet he's handling it as well as anyone could.

His team is fighting to catch the Chicago White Sox in the AL Central Division at the same time he's fast approaching a feat that hasn't been accomplished since 1967.

So what does a guy leading all three Triple Crown categories do when he heads home?

If it's Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera, he avoids watching SportsCenter, listening to sports-talk radio and reading the newspaper.

"I love to watch movies, read books," Cabrera said. "I kind of want to stay away from baseball when I go home.

"I want to see movies. I'm big-time watch movies, try to play with my kids. Try and forget baseball for a little bit."

Cabrera, in the fourth inning Saturday, hit his 42nd home run of the season, putting the icing on the cake of Doug Fister's first career shutout, an 8-0 defeat of the Twins.

With that home run, Cabrera, who already leads the league in batting average (.332) and RBI (131), tied Texas Rangers outfielder for the league lead in home runs.

"You knew it was going to happen eventually," Tigers catcher Alex Avila said. "He's amazing. It doesn't surprise me anymore. It really shouldn't surprise people that watch him every day.

"I think people need to start taking notice nationally now. It hasn't been done in years — winning a Triple Crown."

Hamilton is on the bench this weekend with vision issues caused by a sinus problem, giving Cabrera a chance to pass him and take over sole possession of first in homers.

According to STATS LLC, Cabrera is the first player to lead either the AL or NL in batting average, home runs and RBIs through games of September 22 since Carl Yastrzemski won the Triple Crown in 1967.

But Cabrera is trying not to think about it, even though he's asked about it every single day.

"I'm focused about winning," Cabrera said. "I leave it up to God. If it's gonna happen, it happens."

Fister, who was special on the mound for the Tigers on Saturday, knows he's witnessing something extraordinary in his teammate Cabrera.

"That guy's special," Fister said of Cabrera. "Coming out here, he'll do everything. If he's asked to bunt, he would bunt. He goes out there and plays third base like a champ. It's the kind of leader we like to have in the clubhouse."

The good news for the Tigers is the better Cabrera does, the better they do. As they make a surge for a second consecutive division title, he has a season-high 11-game hitting streak during which he's batting .378 with seven home runs and 15 RBI.

Cabrera's teammates have seen this kind of performance down the stretch before. Last year, he hit .390 in August with two home runs and 16 RBI. He batted a ridiculous .429 average in September with six homer and 21 RBI, leading his team to the postseason and winning the batting title in the process.

"He was pretty locked in last year at this time," Avila said. "To make up the ground he did last year to win the batting title was pretty incredible.

"That's a whole other level when people start talking about the Triple Crown. In my mind, he's the MVP and if he gets the Triple Crown, that's just icing on the cake."

Yet Cabrera knows that the best kind of cake is the kind you share with teammates — the kind you get when you make it to the postseason.

"I think it helps you a lot to focus more (on division rather than triple crown) because it's a different feeling when you're out at this point of the season," Cabrera said. "But right now we got a shot, man. Hopefully, we can do it.

"Today was a big win. (Sunday's) going to be a long day and big series, two games in one day. We gotta get some rest and be ready."