DETROIT — As the Astros cruised to a 17-4 victory over the Tigers Sunday afternoon at Comerica Park, two living legends — MVP winners, longtime teammates, Hall of Famers alike and possibly the best hitter and pitcher of their generation — faced each other. for the last time.
In what was almost certainly the final bout between Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera, Verlander pulled off five scoreless innings, while Cabrera fought back but was unable to knock Verlander for a hit.
When Cabrera walked to the plate in the second half, he and Verlander tipped their hats to each other. Then Verlander Cabrera hit while looking on a curve. In the third period, Cabrera missed four throws before making a force tackle. In the fifth, with two outs and Cabrera next, Verlander instead got what he needed, and finished his outing with Cabrera in the deck circle en route to his 254th career win. The Astros are one game away from the Mariners for first place in the AL West and tied with the Rangers for second place.
“Getting a second to tip my hat to Meggie before we got going was amazing,” said Verlander. “I love this guy, I have a lot of respect for him. I’m glad (Tigers manager) AJ (Hinch) put him in the lineup. I’m glad we had that moment.”
In the eighth, long after Verlander was gone, Cabrera hit a three-run homer, the 510th of his career. He passed Gary Sheffield for his 26th single in AL/NL history with a homer, increasing his career RBI total to 1,871.
“You obviously support your club mates,” said Verlander. “Anytime you’re in history, it’s special, and every time Miggie gets a hit or hits a home run, he’s part of history.”
It was a game that we don’t see very often. Verlander Teammates with the Tigers from 2008-2017 253 wins, three Cy Young Awards, pitching Triple Crown and MVP award to the mound for Cabrera’s 509 home runs, 3,150 hits, two MVPs, the offensive triple crown, average Functional multiplication is 0.307. . The couple has a total age of 80 years and 319 days, with a combined age of 147.5. Together, they have played 39 seasons and made 21 All-Star Games.
Head to head, Verlander got the best of the match; Cabrera is 0-for-5 against him with two strikes. Of course, Verlander managed to avoid facing Cabrera during his most dangerous years; From 2008 to 2017, when they were teammates until Verlander was traded to the Astros at the ’17 deadline, Cabrera won .319/.398/.558 with 324 home runs.
“He’s one of the best right-handed hitters of all time,” said manager Dusty Baker. “One of the best RBI men of all time. … This guy did it all. You have a batting average, you have home runs, you have RBIs, you have longevity – he played until he was 40.”
Verlander echoed that sentiment.
“His natural talent was always something that stood out,” he said. “His right-handed swing is one of the purest in the history of baseball. … There’s a lot of things, but (I was) amazed at his raw ability from the moment I played him.
Baker compared watching Verlander take on Cabrera to watching Barry Bond battle Pedro Martinez, or watching as Hank Aaron takes on Bob Gibson. Baker will know this because he and Aaron played for the Braves from 1968-1974.
“History may judge it that way,” he added. “When you’re the one doing it, I don’t think you think of it that way.”
Meanwhile, with regulars competing, the Astros took the series behind Kyle Tucker, Mauricio Dupont, Martin Maldonado, and Yaner Diaz. Houston scored three early runs, then struck out for four in the seventh and seven in the eighth.
“We just swung the bat today,” Baker said.
However, the decisive moment of the game came in the second period, before the Astros scored and before Cabrera even saw the field.
“It’s like baseball aside,” Verlander said. “The wonderful moment between him and me is the confession, the hat from me to him and from him to me. … Those moments do not come around often.
“You have two players who have played together as long as he and I have played, we have our careers, and you have a moment where everybody knows it’s Meggie’s last season. … The tip of the hat says a million things, and I think we all know what you said.