Miguel Cabrera's march toward 500 career home runs has created added excitement for the Detroit Tigers and their fans in their home series against Boston this week.
Cabrera hit his 498th homer in the series opener on Tuesday, helping the Tigers hand the Red Sox their fifth straight loss, 4-2. They'll play the second game of the three-game series on Wednesday.
Cabrera's two-hit game also moved him within 56 hits of 3,000. The energy level in the ballpark rises with each of his at-bats.
"Obviously, Miggy's chase contributes to a lot of that," manager AJ Hinch said. "When he comes up to bat, they're looking for the number to change, either the hit number or the homer total. And Miggy's delivered with really good at-bats."
Cabrera was floundering at the plate for the first 2 1/2 months of the season. He was batting .199 before a three-hit game on June 14. His average has climbed to .253, and he has homered four times in the last seven games.
"He's a huge presence in our lineup," Hinch said. "It eases (things for) a lot of the guys around him. The power numbers since the homestand have been really good. He's put the ball in play and gotten some hits for a couple of months now."
Detroit will have its new ace on the mound. Casey Mize (6-5, 3.41 ERA) was on a pitch limit most of July, but he was allowed to throw 88 pitches in seven efficient innings against Baltimore in his last start. On Thursday, he held the Orioles to one unearned run on four hits while collecting his first victory since June 26.
"I wasn't able to get to many two-strike counts, wasn't able to pitch that deep into counts because they were swinging the bats," Mize said. "They weren't shying away from swinging the bats early, so that kind of played into our hands (Thursday)."
Mize had a strong outing against Boston on May 5 despite walking four batters. He held the Red Sox to one run on three hits in six innings. It is the only time he has faced them.
Boston's scheduled starter, left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez (7-6, 5.60 ERA), has departed early in his last two outings due to health and control issues.
He was removed from his July 23 start against the New York Yankees after one inning when he experienced migraine symptoms. Six days later, he was roughed up for six runs on seven hits in 3 1/3 innings against Toronto. He issued a season-high four walks while throwing 92 pitches.
"A lot of walks, a lot of base hits," he said. "That's what I think was kind of the problem, a little bit. I would say the only pitch I was able to use most of the time was the fastball, and I wasn't able to locate it."
Rodriguez has pitched well against Detroit during his career, going 4-1 with a 2.91 ERA in six starts.
The Red Sox had another frustrating night at the plate on Tuesday, as they left nine runners on base. They failed to score after Hunter Renfroe's leadoff homer in the second inning.
"We don't want the slide to continue," Boston manager Alex Cora said. "Our goal is to go out there tomorrow and play a good game and win the game."
--Field Level Media