(Photo credit: D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports)
A nice bottle of Northern California wine packed into his suitcase, Miguel Cabrera will wave goodbye to San Francisco Bay Area baseball fans when his Detroit Tigers visit the Oakland Athletics for the finale of a four-game series on Sunday.
The A's (48-107) have won two of the first three games in the set, clinching a season-series win.
Cabrera, who has announced this will be the last season of a brilliant 21-year career, served as the Tigers' designated hitter in the first two games of the series, going 1-for-7. That one hit, however, was memorable, a 624th career double that drew him even with Hank Aaron for 13th place on baseball's all-time list.
When the 40-year-old formally retires at the end of Detroit's regular-season finale at home next Sunday, he will do so with an assortment of Hall of Fame-worthy numbers. He enters his Oakland finale with 3,168 hits, 510 home runs and 1,878 RBIs.
Nonetheless, Cabrera last week sent a message to his teammates -- and all of baseball, for that matter -- in regards to his great individual achievements.
"This game, in the end, it's about winning," he insisted. "We had a lot of losing seasons, so we need to stop that. It's time to think about (winning) more and being a winning team."
Cabrera did win the 2003 World Series as a rookie with the then-Florida Marlins. He also helped deny the A's a shot at a couple of their own titles in 2012 and 2013 when he and the Tigers eliminated Oakland 3-2 in best-of-five thrillers in the American League Division Series.
Oakland manager Mark Kotsay, who hand-delivered the oversized wine bottle in a pre-game ceremony before Thursday's series opener, was playing for San Diego when Cabrera's Marlins won the World Series.
"It was eye-opening from the first day, really," Kotsay said. "His ability as a 17-year-old to come into a professional environment on a big-league field and take BP probably better than most that were taking BP that day, myself included, was impressive. He started in the opposite-field gap and worked his way around to the pull side. At 17 years old, you don't see that often.
"From that day, all of us knew he was special."
Attempting to prevent Cabrera from adding to his gaudy numbers Sunday will be A's left-hander JP Sears (5-12, 4.52 ERA), who saw a three-game winning streak end in a 5-0 defeat to Seattle on Monday.
Sears arguably threw his best game of the season in his team's 1-0 win at Detroit in July, limiting the Tigers to five hits over a career-high 7 1/3 innings without allowing a walk. It was his only previous head-to-head with the Tigers.
Seeking a series split, the Tigers (72-83) are expected to counter with fellow lefty Eduardo Rodriguez (11-9, 3.57), who was bombed for five runs in four innings in a 12-3 home loss to the A's in July, an outing in which he served up home runs to Ryan Noda and Shea Langeliers.
Rodriguez will make his 10th career start against the A's, having gone 2-4 with a 4.56 ERA in the previous nine.
--Field Level Media