Epic Cabrera homers help Tigers edge Yanks
DETROIT — There are home runs and then there are Miguel Cabrera home runs.
Although neither one of Cabrera’s two homers proved to be the game-winner in the Detroit Tigers’ 4-3 walk-off victory over the New York Yankees on Saturday night in front of 44,593 at Comerica Park, they had everyone buzzing after the game.
The first one came when Cabrera led off the fourth inning. Hiroki Kuroda threw an 83-mph slider and Cabrera crushed it so far that it hit the ivy above the shrubs in dead center field.
At the time, the monster shot gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead.
The second came in the bottom of the eighth with two outs. The victim this time was Cory Wade, whose 81-mph changeup ended up in the centerfield camera platform.
That one gave the Tigers a 3-2 lead.
The official team-estimated distances on the home runs were 436 and 433 feet. FOX Sports, which was broadcasting the game nationally, estimated them at 466 and 444 feet.
Either way, Cabrera hit the ball punishingly hard.
“That was a lot of footage, to say the least,” manager Jim Leyland said. “But that’s just what that guy’s capable of doing.
“I think he was really upset with himself with the first at-bat — we bunted over to third, you figure you’re going to get that run for sure with Cabrera. It kind of gives your big guys a little confidence when they can get one without having to get a hit, get a fly ball.
“I think he was mad at himself, and I think it really locked him in the rest of the night.”
Cabrera popped out to the first baseman in foul territory in the first, stranding Quintin Berry at third.
Cabrera’s children attended Saturday night’s game, so he apologized through the media relations department for leaving before speaking with the media, but his teammates were more than happy to speak for him.
Don Kelly, who has witnessed Cabrera’s heroics for several years, was still as stunned after the game as he was during it.
“I mean, I’ve never seen anything like it,” Kelly said. “I don’t even know what to say about it. Really, you had to be here at the park tonight to understand what he did.
“To hit two balls, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a ball hit that far, let alone two by the same guy in the same game. That was impressive.”
Omir Santos, who had the game-winning sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth, also had trouble finding words to describe what Cabrera had done.
“Wow,” Santos said. “What can I say? I don’t know how to explain, but … he’s not human.
“That’s why I say ‘wow,’ because there’s no word for that. He’s the best hitter in the majors right now. He’s great.”
Great is exactly what Brennan Boesch, who scored the winning run, called Cabrera as well.
“It’s greatness in its prime right there,” Boesch said. “It’s a guy that’s at the top of his game, right at the peak of his career, just doing things that really nobody else does.
“Everyone should take it in while it lasts ’cause it’s phenomenal.”
Yankees manager Joe Girardi would have preferred not to have to take it in, even though he really wasn’t blaming his pitchers.
“It’s just him being a great hitter,” Girardi said. “It’s been this way ever since I remember him.
“I had him in Florida, and he was great there and hasn’t changed, unfortunately.”
The two longest home runs on record at Comerica Park were by Carlos Pena — whose home run went over the right center-field wall and was estimated at 461 feet — and by Eric Munson, whose went into the center-field camera platform as Cabrera’s did and was estimated at 457 feet.
Back then, the scoreboard crew did the home run estimates a little differently than the media relations people currently do it, with special charts.
Former Tigers and current Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson knows a thing or two about Comerica Park’s vast centerfield and thinks everyone has it wrong.
“I’ve played a lot of games here, and I don’t even believe it is 420 out there,” Granderson said. “It is 420 at other places, and it never seems as big as it does here.
“I’m sure this is the biggest park out there, and I know I’ve never seen anyone put two balls where he put those two balls tonight. I’ve seen one or two near the camera well, but that wasn’t in a game, and I’ve never seen anything land where the first one went.
“That’s a strong, strong man.”