(Photo credit: Brian Bradshaw Sevald-USA TODAY Sports)
The Guardians and 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.
Twelve-time All-Star Miguel Cabrera, who announced before the season that this would be his last year, has been serenaded at opposing ballparks, receiving a variety of gifts along the way.
Now it's time for the Tigers to pay tribute to Cabrera, who was acquired from the then-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," Tigers 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 the San Francisco Giants 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 on Wednesday during a game the Tigers eventually won 8-0 against the Kansas City Royals. That contest was suspended after four innings and completed on Thursday afternoon, prior to the regularly scheduled game.
Detroit (76-83) also won second 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 the Oakland A's to two runs in 5 2/3 innings during a loss on Saturday.
The rookie has started twice against the Guardians this season, going 1-0 while limiting them to two runs in 10 2/3 innings.
The Guardians (75-84) were off Thursday.
Cleveland right-hander Cal Quantrill (3-7, 5.13 ERA) will start the series opener. He pitched four innings in his latest outing, allowing one run in a 2-1 loss to the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday.
Quantrill tossed six shutout innings at Detroit in a victory on April 19. He is 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 the Cincinnati Reds 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 before eventually managing in Philadelphia, Boston and Cleveland. He led the Red Sox to World Series championships in 2004 and 2007 and guided Cleveland to the World Series in 2016.
--Field Level Media