DETROIT (AP) — There’s little doubt that Miguel Cabrera is one of the best hitters in baseball. And often, it’s his massive home runs that fans, players and managers remember.
Thursday, though, he delivered in a different way.
Cabrera found infield gaps with a pair of two-out hits to drive in three runs in Detroit’s 7-4 victory over the Chicago White Sox.
“I’m just trying to hit the ball into a hole,” Cabrera said. “You have to be able to use the bat to hit the pitch where they give you room.”
Of course, for most players, it isn’t quite that simple.
“I know I’m supposed to stand here and talk about how amazing Miggy is, but we’ve just gotten to a point where we expect this kind of thing,” winning pitcher Max Scherzer said. “We’re thrilled when anyone else does something like that, but he does it all the time.”
Rajai Davis homered, doubled and singled for the Tigers, but he wasn’t going to pretend to be in Cabrera’s territory.
“I had a great day, which is fun, but that man does it every day against every pitcher in the league,” Davis said. “He plays in this park and he wins batting titles and Triple Crowns. He’s a great, great hitter.”
Scherzer (2-1) struck out 10, allowing two runs and seven hits in six innings. A high pitch count ended his outing early.
“There’s a reason he’s the Cy Young winner,” said Adam Dunn, who homered off Scherzer. “You go against (Justin) Verlander one night and then you have to go against Scherzer, and they are both just so tough. They have so many pitches that they can throw for strikes that you are always in trouble against them.”
Joe Nathan pitched the ninth for his fourth save in six tries. He got the final two outs on a strikeout where Jose Abreu was called for interfering with catcher Bryan Holaday’s throw to second base on a stolen-base attempt.
Holaday was amused to find out he had been credited with a game-ending unassisted double play.
“I’ve never even seen anything like that before,” he laughed. “That’s my first one of those, whatever what it was.”
White Sox manager Robin Ventura asked plate umpire Dan Iassogna for an explanation, but didn’t argue the call.
“It was just interference,” Ventura said.
Jose Quintana (1-1) allowed three runs in six innings.
Tigers reliever Al Alburquerque pitched the seventh, but Joba Chamberlain allowed two runs in the eighth to let Chicago pull within one. Detroit scored twice in the bottom half.
The teams traded runs in the second, with Dunn hitting a long homer over the scoreboard in right-center field before the Tigers answered with Austin Jackson’s triple and Nick Castellanos’ single.
Detroit went ahead in the third when Ian Kinsler singled, advanced on a wild pitch and scored as Cabrera slapped an outside pitch the other way for a single.
“Facing that guy in that situation is one of the least appealing situations in baseball,” Ventura said. “He can beat you with a grounder into the hole or he can hit one 500 feet. That’s tough to stop.”
Chicago scored just once in the first five innings, striking out nine times, but forced Scherzer’s pitch count up to 96, meaning that Detroit would need multiple innings from its struggling bullpen.
Davis made it 3-1 in the fifth with his second homer of the season, a shot to left that cleared the Tigers bullpen.
Dayan Viciedo left off the White Sox sixth with a triple when Torii Hunter lost a fly ball in the sun. Alexei Ramirez followed with a sacrifice fly to cut Detroit’s lead to one run on Scherzer’s 102nd pitch.
Ramirez, who made several outstanding defensive plays at shortstop, prevented a run with a diving stop on Davis’ grounder in the seventh. It went for an infield hit, loading the bases with one out, but Maikel Cleto got Kinsler to pop out.
Daniel Webb came in and Cabrera bounced his second pitch up the middle for a two-run single.
The White Sox started the eighth with three hits off Chamberlain, including an RBI single by Ramirez, and a throwing error by Holaday allowed a second run to score.
Holaday, though, had an RBI single in the bottom of the inning, and Davis followed with a two-out double to make it 7-4.
NOTES: The Tigers announced during the game that they will be honoring Jim Leyland in a pregame ceremony before their May 10th game against Minnesota. Leyland managed the Tigers to a franchise-record four postseason appearances before retiring after last season. … White Sox 2B Gordon Beckham made his season debut after missing the first 22 games with a strained oblique muscle. He went 0 for 4 and struck out three times. He was called up Wednesday night from his injury-rehab assignment with Double-A Birmingham, while LHP Charlie Leesman was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte. … With Nathan trying to close out the game, fans down the right-field line started loudly booing a man in a Boston Bruins jersey. Game 4 of the Red Wings-Bruins NHL playoff series was scheduled for Thursday night at nearby Joe Louis Arena.