Miguel Cabrera flexed his muscles to clear up any doubt. The Detroit Tigers’ nine-time All-Star homered on the second pitch he saw from Adam Wainwright in the first inning of Tuesday night’s All-Star Game at Target Field.
The two-run homer gave the American League a comfortable 3-0 lead after one inning in an eventual 5-3 victory.
For extra consideration, the big first baseman showed off his athleticism at first base by leaving his feet to secure a high throw before laying down the tag for an out in the fifth inning. All of this followed numerous reports Monday that the veteran slugger still was recovering from a groin injury and his muscles weren’t functioning properly.
Cabrera didn’t bother speaking after his 1-for-3 effort. On his way out of the clubhouse with a fishing pole, he muttered, “I feel good.”
Whatever the case may be, Cabrera made his statement with another impressive All-Star outing. He’s the first Tigers All-Star to hit a home run in the Midsummer Classic since Lou Whitaker in 1986.
“That guy’s a joke, really,” Twins All-Star catcher Kurt Suzuki said. ‘‘He never hits anything soft. Even his outs are hard. … He could probably play 50 percent [healthy] and still do that. Nothing ever surprises me with that guy.”
Since joining the American League Central and the Twins this year, Suzuki has learned that giving up singles is limiting damage against the two-time reigning MVP.
Cabrera’s Detroit teammates and fellow American League All-Stars Max Scherzer and Ian Kinsler weren’t surprised by the early homer. Scherzer, who struck out two batters in an inning of work, said you’re playing with fire if you throw Cabrera a fastball on the inner half.
Wainwright was quickly reminded of that. It was the first home run the St. Louis Cardinals pitcher had given up since May 30.
“Miggy is the best hitter in the game. Nothing changes. I haven’t seen anything [healthwise] that takes that grade off him,” Scherzer said. “I don’t care who you are. I know Adam Wainwright is a really good pitcher and one of the best in the National League right now, but … show me the best pitcher in the game and you throw Miggy a fastball inside he can turn on it and hit it anywhere.”
This time it was into the seats.
Cabrera’s homer capped a string of extra-base hits by the American League in the bottom of the first. Derek Jeter led off with a double, All-Star Game MVP Mike Trout tripled, and a batter later Cabrera drove in Trout with the sharp liner over the left-field fence.
“That’s what he does. He performs on the biggest stage, and tonight was no different,” Kinsler said. “Any time he comes to the plate, everyone is watching for something like that to happen and delivers more times than not.”