(Photo credit: Brian Bradshaw Sevald-USA TODAY Sports)
The Cleveland Guardians and Detroit Tigers have been eliminated from the playoff race. Yet when Cleveland visits Detroit for a season-ending three-game series beginning Friday night, the park will be packed with fans each game.
Future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera has been serenaded at opposing ballparks throughout the season, receiving a variety of gifts along the way.
As he heads into retirement, it's time for the Tigers to pay tribute to Cabrera, who was acquired from the Florida Marlins prior to the 2008 season.
Cabrera will be in the lineup for all three games of the series.
"What we are committed to is honoring him this last week," manager A.J. Hinch said. "I told our team in our last meeting that if you want to honor him, then win as many games as you can. That's what makes him the happiest."
Cabrera, 40, joined the 500-homer club in 2021 and the 3,000-hit club last season. He won a World Series with the Marlins in his rookie year in 2003. The Tigers have made it to the World Series once since Cabrera joined them, but they lost to San Francisco in 2012.
His popularity with players and fans will make the sendoff even more moving.
"No one really knows the right thing to say to Miggy or the right message to send," Hinch said. "We all want to hug on him and learn from him and help him to enjoy his week. But we also don't want to talk about it because we don't want to think it's real. It's going to be an emotional week for us and for him in particular."
Cabrera hit his 511th career homer during the Tigers' 8-0 win over Kansas City on Thursday. That game was suspended after four innings and completed on Thursday afternoon, prior to the regularly scheduled contest.
Detroit (76-83) also won that game 7-3 and will carry a four-game winning streak into the weekend.
Left-hander Joey Wentz (3-12, 6.45 ERA) will start the series opener for Detroit. He held Oakland to two runs in 5 2/3 innings on Saturday.
He has started twice against the Guardians this season, limiting them to two runs in 10 2/3 innings.
The Guardians (75-84) were off Thursday.
Right-hander Cal Quantrill (3-7, 5.13) will start the series opener. He pitched four innings in his last outing, allowing one run against Baltimore on Saturday.
Quantrill tossed six shutout innings at Detroit on April 19. He's 3-2 with a 2.82 ERA in nine career outings against the Tigers, including six starts.
Cleveland snapped a three-game losing streak in its home finale on Wednesday, edging Cincinnati 4-3.
That also marked the final home game for retiring manager Terry Francona. After the victory, he received hugs from his players and the crowd gave him a sustained ovation.
"I was like. 'Come on, man. Enough,'" Francona said. "I think that's why they were doing it -- just because they knew I was kind of feeling it. Believe me, down deep, I was really touched. I guess what I'm just trying to convey is the 11 years here are what is the best part. It's not like the last day. It's everything I lived through here with the people I was with. That's what I care about."
Francona was the Tigers' third-base coach during the 1996 season.
--Field Level Media