"I know he hasn't performed offensively the way he wants to, or is capable of," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "But when you can get big knocks like that it erases some of those tough games."
Cabrera entered Sunday's action with just one extra-base hit in his previous 18 games (15 were starts). While the extra-base hits have not been plentiful, the one he hit on Sunday was certainly meaningful.
"There's nothing better than when you do something to help the team to win," Cabrera said. "As soon as I hit it, I knew. It was awesome."
After Steven Souza Jr. drew a leadoff walk to start the seventh, Cabrera connected on a 94-mph Chris Sale fastball for his third home run of the season. He had nto homered since May 19 at Atlanta.
Cabrera had not homered against a left-hander since Aug. 26 against Phillies ace Cole Hamels as a member of the Nationals. And the blast was his first go-ahead homer since a three-run shot on June 20 against Detroit's Ian Krol.
Sunday's effort by Cabrera gave him a .257 average with two home runs and nine RBIs in 35 career at-bats against Sale.
"[Sale] was really good, one of the lefties who is hard to face," Cabrera said. "But I faced him a lot when I was in Cleveland, and I know when he can throw the fastball and changeup [he's] really good."
At the end of the day, Cabrera is still hitting .206 on the season, but Cash could not say enough good things about his shortstop's professionalism given his offense.
"I can't say enough about the way his defense has been all year," Cash said. "He's the best shortstop in the American League defensively. We want the ball hit to him. And then for him to get the big hit today was really nice."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. Listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.