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Detroit at Kansas City

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Detroit (88-74) «000010000170
Kansas City (72-90)000000000060

Tigers win, Cabrera takes Triple Crown

CBSSports.com wire reports
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Jim Leyland called it one of the most difficult games he has ever had to manage, tougher than Game 7 of the World Series, even though there was nothing at stake for his team.

There was plenty at stake for his players.

The spotlight Wednesday night was squarely on Miguel Cabrera, who became the first player in 45 years to win the Triple Crown. But there was also pressure on Austin Jackson to hit .300, and on Max Scherzer to show that his sore right shoulder was ready for the postseason.

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Everything worked out perfectly for Leyland, including the outcome of the game -- his AL Central champion Tigers beat Kansas City 1-0 on a double by Jackson in the fifth inning, which helped him achieve his own milestone.

"It was just a great night for baseball. It couldn't have worked out better," Leyland said afterward. "It was a weird evening, but everything turned out great."

First and foremost for Cabrera, one of baseball's most complete hitters.

He went 0 for 2 with a strikeout before leaving in the fourth inning, and finished with an AL-leading .330 average, 44 home runs and 139 RBI, becoming only the 15th player to win the Triple Crown. The last player to achieve it was Boston's Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.

"Right now I feel most grateful," Cabrera said. "It's an unbelievable feeling."

Scherzer wound up pitching four innings for Detroit, which will open the postseason Saturday at home against Oakland. The bullpen took over from there, with Luis Marte (1-0) picking up the victory and Luke Putkonen his first career save.

The only run of the game came off the Royals' Luis Mendoza (8-10), though that was hardly relevant on what turned out to be a memorable night in Kansas City.

The crowd at Kauffman Stadium gave Cabrera a standing ovation before he flied out in the first inning. He struck out in the fourth inning but remained in the game, allowing Leyland to remove him with two outs to another standing ovation.

Cabrera high-fived his teammates as he descended into the Detroit dugout, and then sheepishly walked to the top step and waved his helmet, almost as if he had been playing at home.

"Our fans are great. We've seen that all year," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "Our whole team was doing the same thing, giving him a standing ovation. What he did was amazing."

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig offered Cabrera his congratulations, calling the Triple Crown "a remarkable achievement that places him amongst an elite few in all of baseball history."

"Miguel has long been one of the most accomplished hitters in the game," Selig said, "and this recognition is one that he will be able to cherish for the rest of his career."

Cabrera's milestone wasn't official until the Yankees pinch hit for Curtis Granderson in their game against the Boston Red Sox. Granderson had homered twice to reach 43 for the year, tied with the Rangers' Josh Hamilton and one shy of the Tigers third baseman.

Cabrera finished four points better than the Angels' Mike Trout, his biggest competition for MVP, to win his second successive batting title. Cabrera was the runaway leader with 139 RBIs.

"When he's over the plate, he can do anything. He's the best hitter in the game," Trout said. "I think his approach, the way he battles with two strikes -- you leave one pitch over the plate that at-bat and he's going to hit it. He had an unbelievable year."

The year Yastrzemski won the Triple Crown, he was part of Boston's "Impossible Dream Team," which won the AL title and reached the World Series for the first time in more than two decades.

The Hall of Fame outfielder said in a statement, "I am glad that [Cabrera] accomplished this while leading his team to the American League Central title."

Indeed, the Tigers had already wrapped up their division, allowing them to line up their pitchers and rest some of their regulars for their postseason opener at home against AL West champion Oakland, which clinched its division by beating Texas earlier in the day.

Justin Verlander will start for Detroit to begin the best-of-5 series.

Scherzer was not expected to pitch Wednesday after twisting his right ankle in a celebratory scrum on Monday night. He threw from flat ground Tuesday and decided to pitch the regular-season finale, testing out a sore shoulder that caused him to miss his last start.

The right-hander, who is 16-7 this season, ended up throwing 75 pitches in four innings, allowing three hits and walking two. Scherzer also struck out three.

He was gone by the time the Tigers finally coaxed a run across.

Omar Infante led off the fifth inning with a single, swiped a pair of bases and then trotted home from third when Jackson doubled in his final at-bat of the night.

The bullpens shepherded the game to its conclusion, allowing the Tigers to finally head into a joyous visiting clubhouse and celebrate Cabrera's memorable night.

"A quality guy like he is, it couldn't happen to a better guy," said the Royals' Mike Moustakas. "It's awesome to have a front seat and watch this. It's great for the game."

Notes

  • Yastrzemski had a .326 average with 44 home runs and 121 RBI when he won the Triple Crown.
  • The Tigers finished the season 88-74. Kansas City finished 72-90.
  • Royals SS Alcides Escobar stole his career-best 35th base.
  • Kansas City will celebrate the 40th anniversary of Kauffman Stadium when they play their home opener next season.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Justin Verlander embraces Miguel Cabrera after the star third baseman is pulled from the game and is assured of a Triple Crown. (AP)
Justin Verlander embraces Miguel Cabrera after the star third baseman is pulled from the game and is assured of a Triple Crown. (AP)

Players of the Game
Detroit

A. Jackson
AB 3
R 0
H 2
HR 0
RBI 1
Kansas City

L. Mendoza
IP 7.0
H 6
ER 1
BB 3
K 6
 
Detroit Tigers
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Austin Jackson, CF3021000 .300
    Avisail Garcia, PR-CF1000001 .319
Quintin Berry, LF3000112 .258
Miguel Cabrera, 3B2000010 .330
    Ramon Santiago, 3B1000001 .206
Prince Fielder, DH1010100 .313
   a- Delmon Young, PH-DH2000021 .267
Alex Avila, C2010100 .243
    Bryan Holaday, C1000011 .250
Jhonny Peralta, SS3000023 .239
    Danny Worth, SS1000000 .216
Andy Dirks, RF4010003 .322
Omar Infante, 2B4120001 .274
Don Kelly, 1B2000111 .186
Totals3017148  
a-struck out for Fielder in the 6th
Batting
2B - Austin Jackson (29, Mendoza), Omar Infante (30, Mendoza)
SH - Ramon Santiago (5)
RBI - Austin Jackson (66)
SB - Omar Infante 2 (17, 2nd base off Mendoza/Moore, 3rd base off Mendoza/Moore)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
DP - Worth-Infante-Kelly
Detroit Tigers
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Max Scherzer 4300230 3.74
Drew Smyly 0.2100200 3.99
Luis Marte (W,1-0) 3.1200220 2.82
Luke Putkonen (S,1) 1000110 3.94
Pitches-Strikes - Max Scherzer 75-53, Drew Smyly 19-9, Luis Marte 47-31, Luke Putkonen 23-12
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Max Scherzer 2-7, Luis Marte 2-5, Luke Putkonen 2-0
Batters Faced - Max Scherzer 17, Drew Smyly 4, Luis Marte 13, Luke Putkonen 4
Kansas City Royals
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Jarrod Dyson, CF2000000 .260
   a- Jason Bourgeois, PH-CF2000013 .258
   b- David Lough, PH0000100 .237
Alcides Escobar, SS5020011 .293
Alex Gordon, LF1010300 .294
Billy Butler, 1B3010113 .313
Jeff Francoeur, RF4000007 .235
Brayan Pena, DH4000010 .236
Adam Moore, C4000020 .182
Johnny Giavotella, 2B4020000 .238
Irving Falu, 3B2000201 .341
Totals3106076  
a-flied out for Dyson in the 5th
b-walked for Bourgeois in the 9th
Batting
SB - Alcides Escobar (35, 2nd base off Scherzer/Avila)
Team LOB - 11
Fielding
DP - Falu-Butler, Escobar-Giavotella-Butler, Escobar-Giavotella-Butler
PB - Adam Moore (1)
Kansas City Royals
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Luis Mendoza (L,8-10) 7611360 4.23
Tim Collins 0.1000100 3.36
Louis Coleman 0.2000020 3.71
Aaron Crow 1100000 3.48
Pitches-Strikes - Luis Mendoza 109-64, Tim Collins 10-4, Louis Coleman 7-7, Aaron Crow 7-3
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Luis Mendoza 9-4, Tim Collins 1-0, Aaron Crow 2-0
Batters Faced - Luis Mendoza 28, Tim Collins 2, Louis Coleman 2, Aaron Crow 3
Game Information
Attendance - 30383
Game Time - 2:59
Temperature - 72
Umpires - Home - Mike Winters, First Base - Mark Wegner, Second Base - Sam Holbrook, Third Base - Brian Knight