HOUSTON -- Miguel Cabrera's timing at the plate appears to be back, just in time for him to take another step into Major League history.
With the Tigers struggling for wins as the season nears its final month, Cabrera has bigger concerns on his mind than individual honors. His three RBIs Sunday not only led a late comeback that went for naught in a 6-5 Astros win, but also earned him the Major League record for RBIs by a Venezuelan-born player.
Cabrera returned from the 15-day disabled list Friday after missing six weeks with a strained left calf. He did not take a Minor League rehab assignment beforehand, knowing it would take him time to get his timing back against Major League pitching. He went 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts in his return Friday night, then hit two opposite-field singles Saturday night.
"We knew it was going to take a little bit of time," manager Brad Ausmus said. "He hadn't faced a pitcher in six weeks. We didn't expect it to take a lot of time."
On Sunday, he made the Astros work. He ran the count full his first time up against starter Mike Fiers before sending a drive off the left-field wall for an RBI double. He didn't swing at any of Fiers' pitches in the third inning, shrugging off a full-count curveball in the dirt for a walk.
After a fifth-inning groundout, Cabrera stepped to the plate with two outs in the seventh against Chad Qualls, who had just drawn a called third strike around the knees against Jose Iglesias to deny a sacrifice-fly opportunity. Cabrera took a first-pitch slider, then went with a sinker and lofted it deep to right for his 16th home run of the season and his first since his June 17.
The two-run shot marked Cabrera's 1,425th and 1,426th RBIs of his career, pushing him past Galarraga.
With the home-run and RBI records secure, the last major Venezuelan-born career mark for Cabrera to reach is hits, currently held by Tigers coach Omar Vizquel at 2,877. That will take a few more years; Cabrera's home run was his 2,287th career hit. The way he's starting to swing, he'll have a chance to make up more ground before season's end.
"He looks good," Ausmus said. "I think his timing's still off every now and then, but he certainly took some good swings the last two days."
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.