Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit  |  By DANA WAKIJI  |  Last updated 8/11/13
Mariano Rivera, the greatest closer in baseball history, can't even get Miguel Cabrera out these days. Cabrera became the first player in history to hit two home runs off of the New York Yankees closer in the same series. Cabrera's lead-off homer in the top of the ninth Sunday came on the heels of his two-run, game-tying shot Friday night against Rivera. "His bat stays in the strike zone a long time and he's smart," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said of Cabrera after Sunday's 5-4 loss in New York. "He also knows people are trying to pound him in. He opens up a little bit, pulls his hands in and can hit it out to left. "Staying over the plate, he's capable of doing what you saw today. He's just a great hitter." According to Elias Sports, Cabrera is also the first player to homer off of Rivera in consecutive at-bats. ESPN's Jayson Stark said Cabrera is just the second player to tag Rivera twice in the same season. The first was Seattle's Edgar Martinez, who accomplished that 18 years ago. CBS Sports' Danny Knobler said only two Tigers -- Curtis Granderson in 2009 and Bobby Higginson in 1999 -- had homered off Rivera before this weekend's series. Victor Martinez, who reportedly took pictures with Rivera before the game, also homered off Rivera Sunday, tying the game at 4 after Cabrera's bomb brought the Tigers to within a run. Even though Rivera is retiring after the season, Martinez said it didn't make the home run more special. "Not at all," Martinez said. "Besides a great pitcher, he is a great person. Who wouldn't want to get a picture with Mariano Rivera?" Martinez had only three career hits against Rivera before that -- all singles. "This is the best closer of all time, and it's not like he's having a bad year," said Tigers starter Justin Verlander, who gave up four runs on seven hits over seven innings Sunday. "He's still pitching at an extremely high level, and we were able to come back twice on him. "It would have been great to win one or both of them." But the heroics of Cabrera and Martinez weren't enough. Yankees center fielder Brett Gardner, who got the game-winning hit in the 14th inning Friday, did it again Sunday with a walk-off homer with two outs in the bottom of the ninth off of Jose Veras. "It's not very often you get Mariano Rivera twice in the same series and don't win either game," Leyland said. CONCERN ABOUT AVILA: Alex Avila was supposed to be the catcher for Sunday's game but was a late scratch. Knobler reported that Avila underwent "multiple concussion tests Thursday and Friday, but felt light-headed, nauseous after playing Saturday." The Tigers placed Avila on the 7-day concussion disabled list and plan to recall catcher Bryan Holaday before Monday's game in Chicago. Brayan Pena went 3-for-4 with a home run off Yankees reliever David Robertson.
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