Cabrera of the Tigers gets the 3,000th hit; 33rd player to score

DETROIT (AP) — Tigers star Miguel Cabrera delivered the 3,000th hit of his decorated career on Saturday, becoming the 33rd major leaguer to hit the mark and the first player from Venezuela to accomplish the feat.

Still a commanding presence at 39, Cabrera made history by anchoring an opposite-right field single in the first inning of Detroit’s game against Colorado.

Cabrera immediately raised his right arm as he walked to first base. The Comerica Park crowd gave him an enthusiastic ovation and fireworks were shot from the scoreboard.

The decisive blow came from Antonio Senzatela, a fellow Venezuelan, in the first match of a day-night doubleheader.

A two-time AL MVP, Triple Crown winner and 11-time All-Star with four batting titles, Miggy’s place among Major League Baseball’s greats was already assured long before this afternoon in Detroit. .

As a 20-year-old rookie, Cabrera helped the Florida Marlins win the 2003 World Series Championship. All these years later, getting his name on the 3,000-hit list also rang a bell.

And it will certainly look good on a plate in Cooperstown someday.

Cabrera became only the seventh player with 500 home runs and 3,000 hits. He joined a closed club with Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Eddie Murray, Rafael Palmeiro, Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez.

Last August in Toronto, Cabrera hit his 500th home run. He is now at 502 in his 20th season.

Cabrera is the seventh Latino player to make the 3,000 rankings – success has tied him on the overall roster with the late Roberto Clemente.

Pujols was the previous player to reach 3,000 hits, doing so in 2018. He was at 3,308 heading into Saturday and, at 42 with St. Louis, said it was his final season.

The next batter to hit 3,000? Hard to say.

Robinson Canó followed Cabrera on the active roster with 2,630 heading into Saturday and is 39. Yadier Molina, also 39, followed with 2,116.

Among young players, Jose Altuve (32) has 1,783 and Freddie Freeman (32) has 1,722. Mike Trout (30) was at 1,428.

Cabrera had three hits Wednesday to reach 2,999, then was retired in his final at-bat of the night. He went 0 for 3 on Thursday and intentionally scored his last time against the Yankees, drawing boos and loud chants from Detroit fans.

The milestone remained on deck when Friday night’s game against Colorado fell apart.

Cabrera was the third player to get his 3,000th hit in Detroit, joining Ty Cobb and Al Kaline.

While age has diminished his power to breach any fence and break shots from the opposite field to right center, Cabrera enjoyed a monster career at the plate.

Cabrera became the first major leaguer in 45 years to win the Triple Crown by leading the league in batting average, home runs and RBIs in 2012. That year, he won his first of two consecutive MVP awards and helped Detroit to reach the World Series, during a streak that included four consecutive division championships.

“He’s one of the best right-handed hitters of all time,” Yankees manager and former Marlins teammate Aaron Boone said this week.

“And 3,000 hits, 500 homers, that’s obviously rarefied air. He’s done it, you know, in bigger stadiums his entire career, between Florida and here too. You know, he’s a fan. He’s in that circle, probably intimate, even of the Hall of Fame. It was a special career,” Boone said.

Cabrera increased his total the most often against James Shields, getting 27 hits against the former pitcher for Tampa Bay, Chicago White Sox, Kansas City and San Diego.

Detroit acquired Cabrera in a trade with the Marlins in 2007, with Dontrelle Willis also going to the Tigers in a deal for Andrew Miller and Cameron Maybin. Cabrera had 842 hits at the time.

The trade came a year after the Tigers lost the World Series to St. Louis, hoping Cabrera would help them win the championship for the first time since 1984.

The Tigers, however, have never won it all with their superstar. Detroit was swept by San Francisco in the 2012 World Series and spent a decade in a rebuilding mode that hit a low of 310 losses between 2017 and 2019.

After Cabrera was an All-Star for the 11th time in 2016, his production dwindled and Detroit’s pass rate dipped as well.

The Tigers made bold moves this offseason in a quest to be relevant, with Cabrera serving as a toss to bring fans to the ballpark and hit about one ball a game into the outfield grass with swings savvy after crushing baseballs with incredible force earlier in his career.

A top underage prospect, Cabrera made his major league debut in June 2003. He announced his presence to the baseball world in October.

Pushed back by a few radiators from Yankee ace Roger Clemens, Cabrera came back to throw a Rocket home run to help the Marlins win the World Series.

Cabrera is almost twice as old now and is still a kid at heart, recently taking the field team’s three-wheeled bike for a spin during batting practice.

And, one of the greatest players of all time can still get a hit against some of the best pitchers in the world.

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