Tigers’ Cabrera inches closer to Triple Crown

KANSAS CITY, MO. (AP) - Miguel Cabrera received a standing ovation after flying out and striking out in his only two at-bats Wednesday night, and leaving the Tigers’ game against the Kansas City Royals in the fourth inning with the Triple Crown in sight.

Cabrera high-fived his teammates as he entered the Detroit dugout, then walked back to the top step and waved his helmet as a crowd of mostly Royals fans gave him a standing ovation.

Cabrera finished the regular season with a .330 average, 44 homers and 139 RBIs, essentially wrapping up baseball’s first Triple Crown since Boston’s Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.

“I would say without question he’s enjoyed it. How could you not enjoy what he’s done if you’re a baseball player?” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said before the game.

“I would also add to that I doubt very much, knowing him, that he necessarily enjoys all the extra attention, and all the extra conversations he has to have, it’s kind of out of his realm in personality, to be honest with you.”

Only the Angels’ Mike Trout provided a threat to Cabrera’s second consecutive batting title, but he went 2 for 3 to finish with a .326 average.

Curtis Granderson homered twice for the Yankees to give him 43 on the year, tied with the Rangers’ Josh Hamilton, and still had a longshot chance of winning the home run crown.

Cabrera’s pursuit of history has occurred largely in the dark, though, overshadowed by thrilling pennant races, the sheer enormity of the NFL _ even the presidential election.

An event that in other years might dominate headlines has been mostly cast aside.

“The entire baseball world should be here right now,” said Tigers ace Justin Verlander, the reigning AL MVP, who may soon watch that award get handed off to his teammate.

Perhaps part of the void has to do with Cabrera’s very nature.

He’s not the boisterous sort, never one to crave attention. He would rather hang out with a couple of buddies than stand in front a pack of television cameras, answering countless questions about what makes him one of the game’s most complete hitters.

“He’s not a talkative guy,” said Tigers catcher Alex Avila. “One, he doesn’t speak English that well, but two, he lets his ability carry through.”

It takes a special breed to hit for average, power and in clutch situations, which is why there have only been 14 players to achieve baseball’s version of the Triple Crown, an honor roll that includes iconic players such as Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams and Lou Gehrig.

Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez never accomplished it, failing to win the batting title, and countless other Hall of Fame players have fallen short of one of sport’s rarest feats.

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