On a night when Alex Rodriguez continued his monster postseason and Johnny Damon also cranked a two-run homer, it was Cabrera's emergence that might have been the most welcome sight.
The slumbering Cabrera went 3-for-4 with four RBIs in the Yankees' 10-1 victory, and if the bottom of the lineup can continue to wake up, the Bombers should be in very good shape for Game 5 and potentially the World Series.
"I got a big hit for the team," Cabrera said through an interpreter. "It's a little bit of confidence, but we've got to keep working hard and win the next game to close the series."
Cabrera hit .274 with 13 home runs and 68 RBIs in 154 games for New York this season, but hadn't done much in the postseason, hitting .167 (2-for-12) in the AL Division Series against the Twins and coming into Game 4 with three hits in 13 ALCS at-bats.
"Melky had to be the hero on the offensive side last night," Damon said. "He struggled the game before, but the type of team we have, we pick each other up. Guys don't quit. He definitely got us going in the right direction last night."
Cabrera said that his postseason has been plagued by bad at-bats, but he reversed that approach against Angels pitching in Game 4, hoping it carries forward moving ahead.
"I feel good because I helped my team," Cabrera said. "I was calm, I went after my pitch and that produced good results."
Cabrera said that pitch selection has been an important key for him. He timed everything right in the third inning, surprising Scott Kazmir with a bunt single, then added a two-run single in the third inning that gave the Yankees a 3-0 lead at the time.
Walking and scoring on Damon's homer in the eighth, Cabrera tacked on a two-run double in the ninth inning that effectively put the Angels out of business for the night and sent fans streaming for the exits.
"Leche [Cabrera] had a huge game for us, coming up with the big base hit early in the game and another base hit to end the game," Nick Swisher said. "He just really opened up the doors. He's done a great job for us all year long as a guy hitting in the bottom of the lineup. It's a lot of fun to watch him play."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.