DETROIT -- This Miguel Cabrera looks familiar. It's just that some wondered whether they would see it again.
As the latest opposite-field drive from Cabrera made its path into the right-field seats, the first of two Cabrera solo homers in Monday's 5-4 Tigers win over the Phillies, the swing and the result resembled the Cabrera of a few years ago. When the Detroit slugger pulled a curveball from Phillies sensation Vince Velasquez and powered it into the left-field seats his next time up, the worries about Cabrera's strength in his legs seemed like they were meant for somebody else.
This Cabrera has five home runs in his last four games, three of them three-hit games. He's batting 16-for-30 in his last eight games, raising his average from .281 on May 14 to .327 now. He's batting .395 (30-for-76) in May after turning 33 years old in mid-April.
"Quite frankly, Miggy looks as good as I've seen him since I've been here," said Tigers manager Brad Ausmus.
The fact that Ausmus has been on the job since 2014 is an important reference point. Cabrera paused, then shrugged when asked about it. To him, this is his job.
"I mean, I have a Triple Crown and two MVPs, four batting titles," Cabrera said. "I've got 10 years with 100 RBIs. I've been hitting .300 for a lot of years. I don't know. I mean, I hope I can keep hitting like this."
Actually, Cabrera has 11 seasons with 100 or more RBIs, every season from 2004-14. But it's understandable to lose track. He also has an American League batting title he's defending, despite the injuries that hampered him down the stretch last year.
Stretches like the last week or so are the reminder of who Cabrera still is. Father Time might be creeping up, but Cabrera had a pretty big headstart. He also has a swing that can age well.
Velasquez entered Monday night having allowed just three home runs in 48 1/3 innings of what is becoming his breakout season, but Cabrera nearly matched that total himself. On the opposite-field home run, he made Velasquez pay for following up a first-pitch curveball for a strike with a fastball in virtually the same spot.
The pitch before his second home run, Cabrera fouled off a 96-mph fastball on a 2-0 count. He was still all over the curveball when Velasquez went back to it on the next pitch.
Cabrera took six swings Monday -- two home runs, a double deep to right-center, and three foul balls. He did not miss once, though one foul tip was caught for a strike. He hasn't swung and missed on a pitch since his second at-bat Wednesday. He has taken 33 swings since then, either putting balls in play on fouling them off. He hasn't struck out since May 13, when Chris Tillman got him swinging in Baltimore.
"I swing at strikes. I think that's the key," Cabrera said. "If you swing at strikes, everything is going to be better."
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. 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.