“I know history is very important,” Cabrera said before the game, “but we need to win first. It’s not about me. It’s about the team.”
For four plate appearances, fans packed the lower bowl, hoping for a glimpse at history. Cabrera received a standing ovation from fans behind home plate when he emerged from the dugout to step on deck in the first inning. He walked to the netting between the dugout and home plate, waved hello to fans and posed for a photo with his son, who was seated with the rest of his family nearby.
They’d been talking about the milestone the day before. Cabrera told him that he would bunt for his 3,000th hit, a joke he had shared with reporters in Spring Training.
“I told my kid Christopher yesterday,” Cabrera said before Thursday’s game. “He said, ‘You’re going to bunt? Dad, come on.’ But we bunt today.”
In the end, Cabrera did not bunt. He swung and missed at a first-pitch sinker from Jordan Montgomery before flying out to left to end the opening inning.
Cabrera struck out vs. Montgomery in his next two at-bats, swinging and missing at a curveball leading off the fourth before a checked-swing strike on a 3-2 fastball in the sixth.
That could have been it, but the Tigers’ eighth-inning rally off Miguel Castro earned Cabrera one more trip to the plate, this time facing lefty Lucas Luetge. When Jeimer Candelario hit into a 1-2-3 double play in front of Cabrera, Yankees manager Aaron Boone went to the mound to discuss walking Cabrera with first base open.
Fans booed lustily as Cabrera got the pass. Austin Meadows followed with a two-run single into shallow center field. Cabrera gestured for fans to calm down as they continued to boo.