Cabrera became the 33rd player in major league history and first Venezuelan-born player to reach the 3,000-hit mark when he grounded a first-inning single into right field. The hit came against fellow Venezuelan Antonio Senzatela and set off rousing cheers and chants at Comerica Park.
“I think I’m still dreaming,” Cabrera said. “To be able to see 3,000 up there, pretty special.”
Cabrera added a bases-loaded, two-run single in the sixth, then was pulled for a pinch-runner and drew another huge ovation. He had a first-inning single in the nightcap and finished the day with 3,002 hits.
The 39-year-old Cabrera became just the seventh player with 500 home runs and 3,000 hits. He joined an exclusive club that also includes Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Eddie Murray, Rafael Palmeiro, Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez.
He’s the seventh Latino player to get 3,000 hits. Pujols was the previous player to reach the mark, doing it in 2018.
Cabrera is the third player to get his 3,000th hit in a Tigers uniform, joining Ty Cobb and Al Kaline.
“We’re going to walk away today positive,” Detroit manager A.J. Hinch said. “Obviously, it’s a bummer to lose the game tonight, we’ve got some things to work on and get better at. But any day you’re involved in a historic day, it’s a good day.”
After getting his 2,999th career hit on Wednesday, Cabrera went 0 for 3 on Thursday. The Rockies-Tigers game scheduled for Friday night was rained out, putting history on hold for another day.
Cabrera fouled off the first pitch he saw Saturday and took a ball from Senzatela before his milestone swing.
“When I saw the second baseman almost behind second base, I was like, `OK, you’ve got to shoot the ball that way,’” he said.
He raised his right arm while heading to first base as right fielder Randal Grichuk retrieved the ball. The Comerica Park crowd of 37,566 roared and Rockies shortstop José Iglesias, who played with Cabrera on the Tigers, raced over to give his former teammate a big hug.
His current teammates then came streaming from the dugout to congratulate him before he went behind home plate to embrace his mother, wife, son and daughter on the field.
Cabrera scored three batters later on rookie Spencer Torkelson’s three-run homer as Detroit jumped to a 4-0 lead. Pinch-runner Eric Haase replaced Cabrera after his two-run single in the sixth.
Tigers starter Tarik Skubal (1-1) allowed five hits and struck out six in six innings. The two players who batted in front of Cabrera, Robbie Grossman and Austin Meadows, combined for five hits, five runs scored and three RBIs. Harold Castro added four hits and scored two runs.
In the nightcap, Brieske allowed only three hits in five innings but two were homers. Connor Joe led off the game with his third homer and Charlie Blackmon ripped a two-run shot in the third.
Brieske was still thrilled to make his debut on the same day Cabrera made history.
“Being able to be part of that is one of the coolest things, on top of the debut,” he said. “That’s something we all got to experience and that’s something I won’t ever forget.”
Gomber (1-1) limited Detroit to four hits and struck out eight. Alex Colome gave up a two-out, two-run triple to Meadows in the ninth before getting his second save.
Detroit SS Javier Báez (right thumb soreness) took batting practice and could be activated from the 10-day injured list Sunday. “We’re kind of aiming for tomorrow if today goes well,” manager A.J. Hinch said.
The Tigers placed OF Victor Reyes (left quad strain) on the 10-day IL and recalled OF Derek Hill from Triple-A Toledo. Hill went 1 for 4 in Game 2. … To make room for Brieske, Detroit optioned RHP Angel De Jesus to Toledo after the opener. RHP Kyle Funkhouser (right shoulder strain) was transferred to the 60-day IL.
Rockies: RHP Chad Kuhl (1-0, 0.87 ERA) will pitch the finale of the three-game weekend series. Kuhl tossed six shutout innings against Philadelphia on Monday.
Tigers: LHP Tyler Alexander (0-1, 4.26 ERA) makes his third start of the season Sunday. He lasted just one inning against the New York Yankees on Tuesday, throwing 42 pitches.
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