Detroit, MI – Miguel Cabrera put an exclamation point on a possible American League MVP Award Tuesday.
Cabrera hit a pair of homers, including the Detroit Tigers' first grand slam of the season, in a 12-2 thumping over the Oakland Athletics in the opener of a three-game set.
Cabrera tallied three hits, six RBI and three runs scored. His grand slam in the eighth, a no-doubt shot into left-center field, gave him his 40th homer of the year.
"He's awesome," said Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder of Cabrera. "I'm just very happy for him."
Detroit sits three games behind the Chicago White Sox for the AL-Central lead after they defeated the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday.
Tigers starting pitcher Max Scherzer left the game after two innings with right shoulder fatigue. The American League strikeout leader was replaced by Darin Downs (2-1), who tossed 2 2/3 frames of two-hit ball to pick up the win.
A.J. Griffin (6-1), who was undefeated with a 1.94 ERA over his first 11 starts of his career, was touched for five runs on eight hits and a walk over 4 2/3 innings for Oakland, which has lost three of its last five on the heels of a six-game winning streak.
"(Griffin) didn't have his best stuff," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "He was off today. It was the first time we've seen him like that."
After Brandon Moss' RBI single in the visitor's first gave the A's the early lead, Detroit plated eight straight runs over its next six at-bats to seize control.
The Tigers pushed across a run in each of the first three innings, two in the fifth and three more in the sixth.
Cabrera lifted a sacrifice fly to right field in the home half, Johnny Peralta cracked a one-out shot into right-center field in the second and Cabrera belted a one-out blast deep into the left-field seats in the third.
Cabrera hit a one-out double before Fielder lined a laser over the wall in right-center field for a two-run homer in the fifth.
In the sixth, Austin Jackson smacked an RBI double down the left-field line and Quintin Berry added a two-run double for an 8-1 lead.
Yoenis Cespedes' two-out RBI single in the seventh made it 8-2.
It was Cabrera's third career grand slam and first 40-homer season ... Cabrera is the first Tiger to hit over 40 homers since Cecil Fielder in 1991 ... Detroit went 5-for-8 with runners in scoring position, while Oakland finished 2-for-8.