He pumped his fist as he jogged down the first-base line.
He tossed his arms in the air upon reaching the bag safely.
Cabrera, one of the best hitters in baseball history, recorded his 3,000th career hit in the first inning Saturday against Colorado Rockies right-hander Antonio Senzatela, attacking a third-pitch fastball for a sharp single to right field.
The masses — all 37,566 fans at Comerica Park — celebrated the historic achievement. Cabrera received hugs from teammates, coaches, family members and Rockies players. The crowd chanted his nickname — “Mig-gy! Mig-gy!” — and gave the 20-year MLB veteran a standing ovation.
Moments later, Detroit Tigers rookie first baseman Spencer Torkelson crushed a three-run, opposite-field home run. The Tigers also benefitted from six scoreless innings from left-hander Tarik Skubal, who mixed his secondary pitches better than ever in his 42nd career game.
But Cabrera’s history set the tone, and the Tigers ran away with a 13-0 win over the Rockies in Game 1 of Saturday’s doubleheader, scoring four runs in the first inning, one in the fourth, four in the sixth and fourth in the seventh.
Game 2 of the doubleheader is scheduled to begin at 6:40 p.m.
The 39-year-old is the 33rd player in MLB history with 3,000 hits, and he’s the seventh player with at least 500 home runs and 3,000 hits, joining Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Eddie Murray, Rafael Palmeiro, Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez.
Cabrera finished 2-for-4 with two RBIs.
The Tigers removed Cabrera from Game 1 for pinch-runner Eric Haase in the sixth inning, after Cabrera hit a two-out, two-run single up the middle off Rockies left-handed reliever Ty Blach for an 8-0 lead.
The sixth-inning single pushed Cabrera past Roberto Clemente on the all-time hits leaderboard, giving him sole possession of 32nd place in MLB history with 3,001 hits. Next on the list is former Tiger Al Kaline with 3,007 hits.
Four-run first inning
Robbie Grossman opened the first with a leadoff two-strike single to right field. Austin Meadows grounded into a forceout, bringing Cabrera to the plate with one out and a runner on first base.
Cabrera’s single put runners on the corners.
After a break in the action to commemorate Cabrera, the Rockies had a chance to escape the inning without damage, as Jeimer Candelario struck out swinging, but the Tigers delivered with two outs.
Jonathan Schoop snapped an 0-for-26 streak with a single to score Meadows for a 1-0 lead. Torkelson then demolished a first-pitch 95 mph fastball from Senzatela, sending the ball 354 feet and over the right-field wall.
Torkelson’s third big-league home run put the Tigers ahead, 4-0.
The Tigers tallied two more singles with two outs in the first, courtesy of Harold Castro and Tucker Barnhart, but those runners were stranded as Akil Baddoo popped out to third base.
Senzatela stuck around through five innings, but he gave up his fifth run in the fourth frame. Grossman, who went 3-for-4 with one RBI and one walk, singled on a line drive to center field to score Castro for a 5-0 advantage.
In total, the Tigers scored 13 runs on 20 hits, three walks and six strikeouts. They received multi-hit performances from Grossman, Meadows, Cabrera, Schoop, Torkelson, Castro and Barnhart. All nine players in the starting lineup, along with Haase, recorded at least one hit.
Castro finished 4-for-5 with one double and three singles.
The Tigers’ bullpen held the Rockies scoreless in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings. Wily Peralta handled the seventh, giving way to right-hander Angel De Jesus for his MLB debut in the eighth.
De Jesus retired his first three batters in order, punching out Connor Joe looking with a 94.7 mph sinker for his first MLB strikeout. The 25-year-old opened the season with Triple-A Toledo. His time in the ninth was less smooth, as he allowed the first two batters to reach before striking out former Tiger C.J. Cron and Elias Díaz for the first two outs of the inning. De Jesus then walked Ryan McMahon on seven pitches to load the bases. Brendan Rodgers then popped out on the first pitch to end the game.
The most important moment of Skubal’s outing came in the sixth inning.
The 25-year-old — after cruising through the first five innings — was stuck in a jam with the bases loaded and one out. Pitching coach Chris Fetter visited Skubal on the mound before Rockies star Kris Bryant, who signed a seven-year, $182 million contract this past offseason, stepped to the plate for the high-leverage situation.
A grand slam would have cut Colorado’s 5-0 deficit to one run.
Skubal threw five pitches to Bryant, striking him out swinging with a 95.2 mph four-seam fastballs. His next assignment, Cron, leads the Rockies with six home runs, but Skubal overwhelmed him. Cron flied out to Torkelson in foul territory for the third out.
In his third start this season, Skubal completed six scoreless innings and tossed 60 of 91 pitches for strikes. He allowed five hits, without conceding a walk, and registered six strikeouts.
Skubal used 32 four-seam fastballs (35%), 21 sliders (23%), 20 sinkers (22%), 12 changeups (13%) and six curveballs (7%). He combined for 13 swings and misses and 16 called strikes.
Skubal produced his 13 whiffs with seven four-seamers, one slider, one sinker and four changeups. He earned his 16 called strikes with an even mix of his offerings, doing so with four four-seamers, four sliders, four sinkers, three changeups and one curve.
Riding Skubal’s energy, the Tigers tacked on four more runs in the sixth inning against Blach, the Rockies’ first of three relievers. Most of the damage, once again, came with two outs.
A one-out double from Castro, despite Barnhart’s ensuing strikeout, set the table for his teammates with two down: Baddoo (RBI single), Grossman (single), Meadows (walk), Cabrera (two-RBI single) and Candelario (RBI single).
The single from Candelario made it 9-0.
The Rockies replaced Blach with lefty reliever Lucas Gilbreath, who got Schoop to ground out to third base on the first pitch he threw, ending the inning.
But the Tigers had their way with Gilbreath in the seventh, as Torkelson (single), Castro (single) and Grossman (walk) reached safely with two outs. Meadows then torched him for a second-pitch single, two RBIs and an 11-0 lead.
Haase, the pinch-runner for Cabrera, singled in his first at-bat to load the bases, and Candelario drew a four-pitch walk to push home the Tigers’ 12th run. Schoop continued by slapping a single, his team’s 20th hit, to right field for a 13-0 edge.
That’s when the Rockies pulled Gilbreath. Righty Jhoulys Chafin entered with the bases loaded and struck out Torkelson on three pitches. The 2020 No. 1 overall pick, in his 13th MLB game, finished 2-for-5 with three RBIs and two strikeouts.
Contact Evan Petzold at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Tigers roll over Colorado Rockies, 13-0, in Game 1