10/05/12 7:16 PM ET
Triple Crown champ Cabrera ready for A's
By Jason Beck / MLB.com
Cabrera's face lit up.
"Wow," he said quietly as he edged up to the microphone.
Several of Cabrera's teammates suggested Wednesday night that he hadn't grasped what he had just done, hitting for a combination of league titles that hadn't been held by one player since Carl Yastrzemski 45 years ago.
It might finally be sinking into him now, just in time for him to try to put it behind him and focus on the postseason.
Cabrera estimates he received about 150 text messages congratulating him, which made for a busy Thursday answering people back. He received congratulatory tweets from all over baseball and other sports, such as fellow Detroit star Ndamukong Suh and NBA champion LeBron James. The congrats from James stuck with him, being a Miami Heat fan and ticket holder during the offseason.
In his native Venezuela, he said, the reaction has supposedly been even bigger.
"Venezuela, wow," he said, "I think they're excited back home. I think they can't wait until I come back to Venezuela and celebrate the Triple Crown. ...
"I don't know how to explain, but everybody tells me, yesterday and the day before, it was kind of crazy over there, I'm happy."
He's having fun with it, the same approach he took for much of the final two weeks as it became an international story. But now that it's over, there's a sense of relief with him, that he's ready to move on to the next task.
The Triple Crown is good. A World Series, for him, would be better.
"I feel much better right now," Cabrera admitted. "I think these two days off helped me a lot to get over the Triple Crown race, be ready and focused about tomorrow's game, try to play a good game tomorrow."
The fact that the game comes against Oakland might be fitting. The last time the Tigers came home from the road, they were three games down with 16 games to play. Cabrera, meanwhile, was leading the league in RBIs and had the smallest of leads on batting average, but looked far behind in home runs, four down. The Triple Crown was nice talk, but seemingly wishful thinking.
Cabrera homered twice in the series opener. In fact, he crushed two balls to left field, sending a 68 mph curveball from A.J. Griffin 446 feet towards the left-field line before hitting the Tigers' only grand slam of the season later in the game. He drove in six runs and scored another, accounting for more than half the Tigers' runs in a 12-2 rout.
Suddenly, with Cabrera two off Josh Hamilton's home-run pace, the Triple Crown chase looked real. So did the Tigers again, even though they didn't gain a game in the standings from it.
"I think we needed that," Cabrera said. "I think not only me, I think the Tigers. We needed somebody to get it going, somebody to go out there and push everybody in the same pace and try to win games, try to go race. That's what we did.
"Everybody said we played hard. Everybody saw we played hard. When you see a guy play hard, it's kind of like you want to follow him. It's what we want to do in Detroit."
The Tigers took two another games from the A's, and Cabrera homered again, before Oakland took the series finale. Not only had the Tigers made up a game on the White Sox in the standings, they did it by beating up a good team, putting up 21 runs on an Oakland pitching staff that ranked second in the league.
Cabrera went 14-for-29 (.483) against the A's this season, with three homers -- all during last month's series -- and 14 RBIs. He had as many total bases (25) in seven games against Oakland as fellow MVP candidate Mike Trout had in 15 meetings.
That stretch is over. Like with the Triple Crown, Cabrera is ready to move on. But the A's still have to find a way to pitch to him.
"We know we're going to face a very hot team with Oakland," Cabrera said. "They're playing unbelievable baseball right now. We have to give them a lot of credit because they came from behind and won their division. And they have to be proud of that.
"But it's undecided right now. It's the playoffs. You never know what's going to happen. And I think we're going to be ready tomorrow."