DETROIT — The Detroit Tigers lost much more than a game on Tuesday night.
Miguel Cabrera ruptured his left biceps tendon in the third inning of a 6-4 loss to the Minnesota Twins and will have season-ending surgery later this week.
"This is obviously a very sad day for Miggy and for the entire ballclub," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "It is obviously a huge blow to the team, both on and off the field, but we will have to find a way to overcome it."
Gardenhire said Cabrera's status for the 2019 season won't be known until after the operation. He still has $154 million left on a contract that runs through 2023.
Cabrera swung awkwardly at Jake Odorizzi's slider and immediately walked to the dugout with his arm limply at his side. When he was joined by team trainers, the slugger gestured to his biceps and continued walking into the Detroit clubhouse.
"At that end of that inning, I ran up to check on him in the clubhouse and he said he felt a pop on that swing," teammate Nicholas Castellanos said. "I knew that wasn't good, but we didn't find out how bad it was until after the game."
Many of the Tigers had already left the clubhouse before it was opened to the media, more than 20 minutes after the final pitch.
"We're all kind of stunned," said JaCoby Jones. "You don't think anything like that is going to happen to Miguel Cabrera, especially on a swing."
Cabrera has played through numerous lower-body injuries in the past few years, even while winning a Triple Crown, two MVP awards and four batting titles, but it started to catch up with him in 2017. He played 130 games, but hit a career-worst .249 with 16 homers.
This year, he missed three games with spasms in the same biceps tendon that ruptured on Tuesday, then was out for 26 games with a hamstring strain and back tightness. He returned on June 1, hitting .244 with no home runs and one RBI in 12 games before the latest injury.
Gardenhire didn't think the earlier injuries played a role in what happened on Tuesday.
"He took BP before the game and he said he felt great," Gardenhire said.
John Hicks, normally Detroit's backup catcher, played first base during Cabrera's previous absence and will return there for the time being. Gardenhire said the team will discuss long-term plans in the upcoming days.
"We're all going to have to step up, starting tomorrow, to try to fill Miggy's shoes," Castellanos said. "That means everyone, beginning with me."
The mood in the clubhouse wasn't helped by a late-inning loss. Detroit led 2-1 after six innings before Ehire Adrianza's first career grand slam rallied the Twins.
Tigers starter Blaine Hardy allowed a leadoff single to Eduardo Escobar to start the seventh and was replaced by Louis Coleman.
"I understand that move completely," Hardy said. "I have just as much faith in Lou as I do myself, and that hasn't changed."
Coleman (3-1) only threw nine strikes in a 23-pitch outing, walking two batters to load the bases with two out. Gardenhire brought in Warwick Saupold, who went to a 3-1 count on Adrianza before throwing a fastball that ended up in the right-field stands.
"I'm not a home run hitter, so this is very exciting," Adrianza said. "It was a hitter's count, so I was looking for a fastball and I hit it hard. I was emotional."
The Tigers made it 5-4 with two runs in the seventh. With runners on second and third with two outs, Jones beat out an infield single and Escobar's throw sailed past first baseman Logan Morrison for Minnesota's second throwing error of the inning.
Miguel Sano gave the Twins a 6-4 lead with an RBI single in the eighth.
"We walked some people and we just let the game get away from us," Gardenhire said. "That was disappointing."
Ryan Pressly (1-1) got the win with a scoreless inning of relief. Fernando Rodney pitched the ninth for his 14th save.
"I think we've played better in games that we've lost, but winning is the important part," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "What Ehire did was obviously huge. We were hoping he'd get something to the outfield, and he puts it in the seats."
Hardy pitched six-plus innings, allowing one run on three hits and a walk. Hardy, who replaced Jordan Zimmermann in the rotation, is expected to make at least one more start before Zimmermann and Francisco Liriano return from the disabled list.
Odorizzi permitted two runs on four hits and four walks in five innings. He struck out four while throwing 102 pitches.
The Twins took a 1-0 lead by manufacturing a run in the third. With one out, Adrianza reached on an infield single, stole second, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on Ryan LaMarre's sacrifice fly.
Jose Iglesias tied the game with a one-out RBI triple in the fourth, and scored on Leonys Martin's sacrifice fly.
STAYING IN SHAPE
While on third base after his fourth-inning triple, Iglesias had to dive to the ground to avoid being hit by teammate Dixon Machado's line drive. He broke his fall with his hands and snapped off three quick push-ups before jumping back to his feet.
Cabrera made his major league debut for the Florida Marlins on June 20, 2003, and played in 87 of their final 88 games. He averaged 153 games in the next 14 seasons, but will finish 2018 with 38.
Twins: Minnesota signed RHP Matt Belisle to a major league contract and he joined the team in Detroit. To make room for him, the Twins designated INF Gregorio Petit for assignment.
Tigers: C James McCann (flu) missed his second straight game, but was available to pinch hit. The Tigers recalled C Grayson Greiner from Triple-A Toledo, and he will serve as McCann's backup with Hicks moving to first. After the game, the Tigers recalled infielder Ronny Rodriguez from Toledo to fill Cabrera's roster spot.
The teams play the second of a three-game series Wednesday night. Minnesota RHP Jose Berrios (7-4, 3.66 ERA) faces Matthew Boyd (4-4, 3.20).
More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball
Dave Hogg, The Associated Press