He is connecting on pitches he isn’t supposed to hit, cutters several inches inside and off the plate and fastballs away high or low.
Bruce Chen hadn’t lost this season until he had to pitch against Cabrera on Sunday. After Cabrera sent Chen’s first pitch over the left-field wall, a day after he ended a game with a homer to right. The lefty didn’t want to give the slugger anything to hit in the third inning and liked what he saw coming out of his hand. Until Cabrera smacked it for an RBI single.
“I was going ‘Whoa, a good pitch. Not over the plate,”’ Chen recalled. “But he hit it like I left it in the middle of the plate, but I didn’t.”
Cabrera’s manager and teammates would say he knew what was coming from Chen, the latest in a long line of pitchers who have tried to pitch around a player for the ages.
“It’s almost like he’s a mind-reader,” Leyland said. “I’ve seen them try to pound him inside, and all of a sudden, he’ll fly open and hit one in the left-field seats. I’ve seen them stay away from him, and he’ll stay on it, and hit one in the right-field seats.
“It’s uncanny the way he has the ability to kind of sense what’s coming.”
In the Tigers’ 6-3 over Kansas City on Sunday, Cabrera joined Babe Ruth and Jimmie Foxx as the players since 1921 to have at least 40 homers and 120 RBIs while batting .350 or better through 116 games.
The Venezuelan is also part of another exclusive trio with Foxx and Albert Pujols as the only players in major league history with at least a .320 career batting average along with 350-plus homers at the age of 30 years and four months, STATS said.