Doug Fister has pitched enough in his career at Safeco Field to know just how difficult it is – even with shorter fences – to hit a line drive out anywhere near center field.
Miguel Cabrera made it look simple.
“That’s a hard spot to hit the ball out and he did it with ease,” Fister said. “That guy is such a special hitter.”
Cabrera hit a two-run homer and drove in Detroit’s first four runs, Fister threw seven strong innings against his former team, and the Tigers beat the Seattle Mariners 6-2 on Tuesday night.
Cabrera’s homer came with two outs in the fifth inning off Seattle starter Aaron Harang and was his second of the season. Cabrera drove a pitch off the edge of the plate out to right-center field to give the Tigers a 3-2 lead.
Cabrera also had RBIs in the first and seventh innings, scoring Austin Jackson both times. Jackson has 19 runs scored in just 13 games.
“We’re just feeding off each other. Everybody’s trying to go up and have good at-bats and let the results take care of themselves,” Jackson said.
It was Cabrera’s second four RBI game of the season after driving in four last week against Toronto when he also hit his first homer of the season. Jackson and Torii Hunter both walked with the bases loaded in the eighth to drive in runs.
“I thought we hit very well,” Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. “We took advantage of a couple of breaks and shut them down good.”
Harang was done after the fifth in his Mariners debut. He was acquired in a trade from Colorado last week after the Rockies designated him for assignment and took Blake Beavan’s spot in the Mariners rotation. Harang (0-1) allowed seven hits and struck out six while throwing 95 pitches.
Harang’s problems all came on two-strike pitches. Jackson led off the game with a triple to deep right-center on a 3-2 pitch and scored with one out when Cabrera singled on a 0-2 pitch.
In the fifth, Harang allowed a two-out single to Hunter. He got ahead of Cabrera 2-2 and his fastball was in a good location just off the edge of the plate.
But Cabrera stayed through the pitch and drove it 395 feet into the right-center field seats to give the Tigers the lead. Cabrera added a single in the seventh after Jackson reached on a one-out single and stole second base.
“When you can fight through two-strike at-bats like that, a lot of times it wears a pitcher out,” Leyland said. “Making a pretty nasty pitch and you’re fouling it off, or hitting it pretty good somewhere and fouling it off to extend the at-bat that takes its toll on pitchers after a point.”
Detroit added runs in the eighth after loading the bases with one out. Seattle reliever Bobby LaFromboise struck out pinch-hitter Matt Tuiasosopo for the second out and got ahead of Jackson.
He barely missed with a 1-2 pitch that was inside and Jackson walked when the 3-2 pitch was outside. Yoervis Medina entered to make his major league debut and walked Hunter before getting Cabrera.
Fister retired the first 10 batters in order before giving up a one-out double to Kyle Seager in the fourth. It was Seager’s seventh double of the season. Kendrys Morales followed with another double to right-center that scored Seager.
Michael Morse then lined a single into center and Morales scored although the play at the plate was closer than expected after he slowed down the last few steps.
Fister quickly got back into a grove after Morse’s single, retiring nine of the next 10 batters and not allowing another hit until Justin Smoak’s one-out single in the seventh. Fister gave up four hits and struck out five in seven innings.
“We’ve got to get the offense going. Loosen things up around here,” Seattle manager Eric Wedge said. “You get a couple of guys going , you start to gain a little momentum.”