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10/04/2012 12:30 AM EDT
Cabrera wins Triple Crown as Tigers beat Royals
DETROIT 1, KANSAS CITY 0

By DAVE SKRETTA
AP Sports Writer

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Jim Leyland called it one of the most
difficult games he's ever had to manage, tougher than Game 7 of
the World Series, even though there was nothing at stake for his
team.



There was plenty at stake for his players.



The spotlight Wednesday night was squarely on Miguel Cabrera,
who became the first player in 45 years to win the Triple Crown.
But there was also pressure on Austin Jackson to hit .300, and
on Max Scherzer to show that his sore right shoulder was ready
for the postseason.



Everything worked out perfectly for Leyland, including the
outcome of the game - his AL Central champion Tigers beat Kansas
City 1-0 on a double by Jackson in the fifth inning, which
helped him achieve his own milestone.



"It was just a great night for baseball. It couldn't have worked
out better," Leyland said afterward. "It was a weird evening,
but everything turned out great."



First and foremost for Cabrera, one of baseball's most complete
hitters.



He went 0 for 2 with a strikeout before leaving in the fourth
inning, and finished with an AL-leading .330 average, 44 homers
and 139 RBIs, becoming just the 15th player to win the Triple
Crown. The last player to achieve it was Boston's Carl
Yastrzemski in 1967.



"Right now I feel most grateful," Cabrera said. "It's an
unbelievable feeling."



Scherzer wound up pitching four innings for Detroit, which will
open the postseason Saturday at home against Oakland. The
bullpen took over from there, with Luis Marte (1-0) picking up
the win and Luke Putkonen his first career save.



The only run of the game came off the Royals' Luis Mendoza
(8-10), though that was hardly relevant on what turned out to be
a memorable night in Kansas City.



The crowd at Kauffman Stadium gave Cabrera a standing ovation
before he flied out in the first inning. He struck out in the
fourth inning but remained in the game, allowing Leyland to
remove him with two outs to another standing ovation.



Cabrera high-fived his teammates as he descended into the
Detroit dugout, and then sheepishly walked to the top step and
waved his helmet, almost as if he'd been playing at home.



"Our fans are great. We've seen that all year," Royals manager
Ned Yost said. "Our whole team was doing the same thing, giving
him a standing ovation. What he did was amazing."



Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig offered Cabrera his
congratulations, calling the Triple Crown "a remarkable
achievement that places him amongst an elite few in all of
baseball history."



"Miguel has long been one of the most accomplished hitters in
the game," Selig said, "and this recognition is one that he will
be able to cherish for the rest of his career."



Cabrera's milestone wasn't official until the Yankees pinch hit
for Curtis Granderson in their game against the Boston Red Sox.
Granderson had homered twice to reach 43 for the year, tied with
the Rangers' Josh Hamilton and one shy of the Tigers third
baseman.



Cabrera finished four points better than the Angles' Mike Trout,
his biggest competition for MVP, to win his second straight
batting title. Cabrera was the runaway leader with 139 RBIs.



"When he's over the plate, he can do anything. He's the best
hitter in the game," Trout said. "I think his approach, the way
he battles with two strikes - you leave one pitch over the plate
that at-bat and he's going to hit it. He had an unbelievable
year."



The year Yastrzemski won the Triple Crown, he was part of
Boston's "Impossible Dream Team," which won the AL title and
reached the World Series for the first time in more than two
decades.



The Hall of Fame outfielder said in a statement, "I am glad that
(Cabrera) accomplished this while leading his team to the
American League Central title."



Indeed, the Tigers had already wrapped up their division,
allowing them to line up their pitchers and rest some of their
regulars for their postseason opener at home against AL West
champion Oakland, which clinched its division by beating Texas
earlier in the day.



Justin Verlander will start for Detroit to begin the
best-of-five series.



Scherzer was not expected to pitch Wednesday after twisting his
right ankle in a celebratory scrum on Monday night. He threw
from flat ground Tuesday and decided to pitch the regular-season
finale, testing out a sore shoulder that caused him to miss his
last start.



The right-hander, who is 16-7 this season, ended up throwing 75
pitches in four innings, allowing three hits and walking two.
Scherzer also struck out three.



He was gone by the time the Tigers finally coaxed a run across.



Omar Infante led off the fifth inning with a single, swiped a
pair of bases and then trotted home from third when Jackson
doubled in his final at-bat of the night.



The bullpens shepherded the game to its conclusion, allowing the
Tigers to finally head into a joyous visiting clubhouse and
celebrate Cabrera's memorable night.



"A quality guy like he is, it couldn't happen to a better guy,"
said the Royals' Mike Moustakas. "It's awesome to have a front
seat and watch this. It's great for the game."



NOTES: Yastrzemski had a .326 average with 44 homers and 121
RBIs when he won the Triple Crown. ... The Tigers finished the
season 88-74. Kansas City finished 72-90. ... Royals SS Alcides
Escobar stole his career-best 35th base. ... Kansas City will
celebrate the 40th anniversary of Kauffman Stadium when they
play their home opener next season.

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