Los Angeles Angels rookie Mike Trout might not deny Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera the MVP, but he could keep beat him out for the batting title and deny him the Triple Crown.
Cabrera went 4-for-5 in Monday night's clincher to raise his league-leading average to .329.
But Trout went 4-for-5 in the Angels' win in Seattle to raise his average to .325.
He moved into second in the batting race in place of Joe Mauer, who went 1-for-5 in Toronto and dropped to .322.
Then Mauer went 1-for-5 in Toronto on Monday night and dropped to .322. Cabrera went 4-for-5 to rise to .329.
Trout kept the batting race tight on a night when Cabrera, for the first time in his late-season charge for the Triple Crown, took over the outright lead in all three categories.
He is the first player since Boston's Carl Yastrzemski in 1967 to lead in all three Triple Crown categories anywhere this close to this late in the season. Yaz's long reign as the most recent Triple Crown winner is now in serious jeopardy.
Cabrera would be awarded the Triple Crown if he tied for the homer and/or RBI title; it's almost impossible to have an absolute tie for the batting title. Yastrzemski tied Minnesota's Harmon Killebrew for the homer title in his Triple Crown year. Each hit 44.
Cabrera hit his 44th in the sixth inning Monday night. That gave him sole possession of the lead in all three Triple Crown categories.
Cabrera began the day tied with Texas' Josh Hamilton at 43 homers. Hamilton didn't hit a homer in Texas' 4-3 loss in Oakland. Cabrera leads him by one homer and Toronto's Edwin Encarnacion by two homers with two games left in the season.
Even if the Triple Crown wasn't at stake, it would be a surprise if Cabrera didn't play in the Tigers' two remaining games. He kept playing all the games last year after the Tigers wrapped up the division with nearly two weeks left. (The Tigers played until the season's final game unsuccessfully trying to obtain home field for the first round; they can't gain the home-field advantage for the first round this season.)
Cabrera appears to have the RBI title wrapped up. He leads the runner-up Hamilton by 10 (137-127) with two games left for each.
Milestone: Cabrera reached the 200-hit mark for the first time when he lined a fourth-inning single to right. His previous career high in hits had been 198, in 2005 and 2009. The ball with which Cabrera got the hit was tossed out of play as a souvenir for him. According to research done through Baseball-Reference.com, Cabrera became the only Tiger besides Hank Greenberg to have 40 homers and 200 hits in the same season. In 1937, Greenberg had exactly 40 homers and exactly 200 hits.
And so when Cabrera homered in the sixth, he became the first Tiger to have more than 200 hits and more than 40 homers in the same season.
What a hitter! Mauer is going for his fourth American League batting title in his eight years as a Twins regular.
"He has the ability to let the ball travel (to him)," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "He's not home-run conscious. He really doesn't do anything fundamentally wrong at the plate. You never see him speed up. You see him get fooled very rarely. Very rarely."
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