Tigers' Cabrera claims Triple Crown
KANSAS CITY, Mo. Miguel Cabrera became the 15th player to win baseball’s Triple Crown on Wednesday night, the reluctant superstar thrust into the spotlight after joining an elite list that includes Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams and Lou Gehrig.
The Detroit Tigers’ slugger topped the American League with a .330 batting average, 44 home runs and 139 RBIs, becoming the first Triple Crown winner in the majors since Boston’s Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.
Cabrera’s achievement wasn’t assured until the Yankees pinch-hit for Curtis Granderson in their 14-2 rout of the Boston Red Sox. Granderson had homered twice to reach 43 for the year, tied with the Rangers’ Josh Hamilton and one shy of Cabrera.
Cabrera went 0 for 2 against the Royals before leaving in the fourth inning to a standing ovation. He finished the regular season hitting four points higher than Angels rookie Mike Trout, his toughest competition for AL MVP. Cabrera was the runaway leader with 139 RBIs.
“I am glad that he accomplished this while leading his team to the American League Central title,” Yastrzemski said in a statement. “I was fortunate enough to win this award in 1967 as part of the Red Sox Impossible Dream Team.”
Commissioner Bud Selig also offered his congratulations, calling the Triple Crown “a remarkable achievement that places him amongst an elite few in all of baseball history.”
The crowd at Kauffman Stadium gave Cabrera a standing ovation before he flied out in the first inning. He struck out in the fourth but remained in the game, allowing Leyland to remove him with two outs to another standing ovation from thousands of appreciate fans.
Cabrera high-fived his teammates as he entered the Detroit dugout, then walked back to the top step and waved his helmet. When the feat became official, it was displayed on the center-field scoreboard to another standing ovation.
“I would say without question he’s enjoyed it. How could you not enjoy what he’s done if you’re a baseball player?” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said before the game.
“I would also add to that I doubt very much, knowing him, that he necessarily enjoys all the extra attention, and all the extra conversations he has to have. It’s kind of out of his realm in personality, to be honest with you.”
A dropped fly ball by Josh Hamilton, a home run from Ryan Zimmerman and pitch by pitch, the baseball playoff picture became completely clear on the final day of the regular season.
“Now the real season starts,” New York Yankees star Derek Jeter said Wednesday night.
The playoffs begin Friday with a pair of winner-take-all wild-card matchups. The defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals visit Chipper Jones and the Atlanta Braves in the NL, then Baltimore plays at Texas in the new, expanded format.
On Saturday, the newly crowned AL West champion Oakland Athletics will face Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera, Justin Verlander and the Tigers in Detroit to open the best-of-five division series.
That night, Johnny Cueto starts for Cincinnati against Matt Cain and host San Francisco in Game 1 of the NL division series.