There is something about Corey Kluber that lights up the eyes of Miguel Cabrera.
Despite an elite five-pitch arsenal, 2014 AL Cy Young Award and 2016 All-Star Game appearance, the 31-year-old ace has yet to find any sort of success against one of the best hitters of the last 10 years.
When facing Cabrera, Kluber heavily relies on his sinker (34.8% usage rate) and slider (26.6%). Even though Kluber tries to place the ball in the lower-half of the strike zone, he comes up short in keeping the batted ball on the ground rather than through the air.
While all of these stats and graphs were accurate entering play, Kluber certainly did not help his cause within the pitcher-friendly confines of Comerica Park on Tuesday at Comerica Park...
Kluber vs. Cabrera - First Inning - 1-2 Count - Hanging Curveball/Slider
Result: Flyout to right field
Distance: 319 feet
Pitch Velocity: 84.3-mph
Exit Velocity: 97.5-mph
Hit Probability: 47%
Kluber got away with a hanging curveball in his first clash with Cabrera as his 1-2 bender was placed in the wheelhouse of most right-handed power hitters. Simply put, the hard-throwing righty escaped a rather precarious situation.
Not many adjustments were made during Kluber's second time through the Detroit batting order as he surrendered another run of damage before Cabrera stepped into the box and changed the contest with one swing of the bat...
Kluber vs. Cabrera - Third Inning - 2-2 Count - Fastball off the plate inside
Result: Home run to left field
Distance: 372 feet
Pitch Velocity: 93.6-mph
Exit Velocity: 96.4-mph
Hit Probability: 34%
On this particular instance, Kluber likely hits his spot but somehow comes away with a far worse result than the first at-bat.
"He's just a special hitter," said manager Terry Francona of Cabrera's impressive blast. "That's a pretty good piece of hitting."
This leads many to believe that Cabrera is just a premier hitter capable of reading pitch-types and pitch-locations at an incredibly high level.
When facing Kluber, the Tigers slugger has shown a keen ability to lift the ball for flyouts (11) more than beat it into the dirt infield for groundouts (six), a total that matches his number of home runs vs. Kluber (six).
Even when Cabrera is retired, he still finds the barrel of his bat to give himself a chance to find grass on the spacious outfield of Comerica Park (see spray chart above), a stadium that usually plays in favor of triples and even an occasional inside-the-park homer.
Cabrera is now batting .451 (23-for-51) against Kluber as he continues to prove why he is one of baseball's best.