DETROIT -- Twelve years ago, the Indians had an outfielder named Jody Gerut who had a 75-RBIs rookie season in 2003 and never drove in more than 51 again. Twenty-seven of those 75 RBIs came against the Tigers, who lost 119 games that year. Gerut finished his six-year Major League career with 226 career RBIs, 12 percent of them in one season against one team.
Miguel Cabrera has 1,414 RBIs in his 13-year big league career, and plenty of other teams he has hit hard in that time. Right now, though, the Cleveland Indians have to wonder what they did to deserve this.
After another monster homer, this one projected by Statcast™ to land 454 feet from home plate, from Cabrera in Sunday's 8-1 Tigers win, they also have to wonder what they have to do to get him out.
"You're asking the wrong guy," said Corey Kluber, whose fourth-inning pitch to Cabrera was his fifth home run allowed to him.
Kluber has a Cy Young award to his credit, but it wasn't for anything he did to Cabrera, now 20-for-35 against him for his career. Look up and down the pitching list, though, and nobody on the Indians' staff has good numbers against Cabrera, especially this year.
Cabrera is now batting .647 (22-for-34) this season off Indians pitching. No Major League hitter has ever hit for that high of an average against one team in a single season with at least 30 at-bats. He has also driven in 15 runs.
Granted, it's a half season. Detroit and Cleveland meet 10 more times this year, including a three-game series next week at Progressive Field. Cabrera would have to keep up that average for the rest of the year to own that mark. Other than the law of averages, though, he's showing little reason to suggest he can't.
"I think we kind of know those guys, we face these guys on a day in, day out," J.D. Martinez said. "Vice versa too for them. They face our guys in the same day in, day out. For some reason, we feel comfortable and we feel confident when we go up against them. I don't think anything changes."
Cabrera noticed when Danny Salazar changed his pattern against him Friday night, and he sent a 452-foot home run off the camera well above center field at Comerica Park. Sunday's 454-foot sequel was the only hard-hit ball Kluber gave up in five innings.
"There's not many no-doubters that go to that part of the park at Comerica," manager Brad Ausmus said. "That's two in a series. If you didn't have Miguel Cabrera here, you'd be lucky to see two in a season."
The Indians, of course, would rather see none. Cabrera has 10 three-hit games this season, half of them against Cleveland.
"We stay aggressive," Cabrera said of the Tigers' approach against Kluber. "Sometimes we swing early in the count, sometimes we take a pitch, try to get deep in the count, different at-bats."
The approach Kluber takes, he said, will remain the same.
"Just because he's had success off me in the past, I'm not going to shy away from him ever or try to make the perfect pitch or something like that," Kluber said. "I'm going to stick to my game plan, and it's just a matter of making a good pitch."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.