Detroit Tigers get a few bats going, but need Miguel Cabrera to snap out of funk at plate

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Robbie Grossman still looks at Miguel Cabrera as the slugger who made 11 All-Star games and won two American League Most Valuable Player awards.

“He’s still Miguel Cabrera in my eyes … one of the greatest right-handed hitters of all time,” Grossman said. “I watch him every day just to see if I can get something from him because he’s a future Hall of Famer.”

Tigers fans have seen Cabrera’s steady decline over the last five years. His numbers now look like a pitcher’s batting line — .105 average, .177 on-base percentage, .228 slugging percentage.

That’s where Cabrera stands after an 0-for-5 performance in an 11-7 loss to the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on Tuesday. Cabrera, who has gone hitless in his last 23 at-bats, left seven runners on base on a night when some of his teammates finally showed a pulse at the plate.

Detroit Tigers' Victor Reyes slides head first into home while scoring on an RBI double by Robbie Grossman during the fifth  at Fenway Park in Boston on Tuesday, May 4, 2021.
Detroit Tigers' Victor Reyes slides head first into home while scoring on an RBI double by Robbie Grossman during the fifth at Fenway Park in Boston on Tuesday, May 4, 2021.

He struck out looking twice, losing an eight-pitch battle with Red Sox starter Nick Pivetta and a 10-pitch tussle with Matt Andriese. He hit ground balls in his other three at-bats, rolling into the two double plays. The second was particularly agonizing after the Tigers loaded the bases with one out while down three runs in the eighth.

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“Obviously, he’s not a great place production-wise,” manager AJ Hinch said. “He’s continuing to do his work. He feels good. He had some long hard battles but he’s coming up on the bad end of the competition against the pitcher right now.”

Cabrera, 38, is guaranteed $30 million this year and $32 million in each of the next two seasons.

Hinch has little choice but to keep riding Cabrera with the solace that it can’t get any worse.

“We’re all pulling for him,” Hinch said. “We’re obviously a better team when he comes out of it but it’s been a struggle.”

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The same could be said for the entire lineup, as the Tigers entered the game with a major-league worst .195 average. Their run total on Tuesday was two better than what they posted in the previous five games combined but their losing streak still reached six games.

Michael Fulmer of the Detroit Tigers is pulled from the game in the second inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park in Boston on Tuesday, May 4, 2021.
Michael Fulmer of the Detroit Tigers is pulled from the game in the second inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park in Boston on Tuesday, May 4, 2021.

Leadoff hitter Grossman reached base a career-high five times, drove in three runs and stole two bases. Grossman lifted his season average to .221.

“I’ve been fighting with my swing,” he said. “I’m just trying to get to a point where I feel balanced in my legs. Today was a building block.”

The bottom of the order was also productive. JaCoby Jones blasted his second homer of the season, a three-run shot. Jones, who’s hitting .148, had just two RBIs prior to that sixth-inning swing.

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Victor Reyes, who had a total of six hits entering the game, enjoyed a three-hit night and reached base four times. He increased his average to .164.

“I was proud of some at-bats,” Hinch said. “Jacoby, big swing. Victor was all over the at-bats and Robbie had five good at-bats. Those were key and we need more of that.”

They need much, much more from their No. 3 hitter to have any semblance of a respectable offense. Cabrera’s first at-bat this season resulted in a home run during a snow squall. He soon suffered a biceps strain that landed him in the injured list and since his return, his bat has remained ice cold.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Tigers get a few bats going, need Miguel Cabrera to wake up