Miguel Cabrera wins first Triple Crown since 1967

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Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera entered tonight’s season finale against the Royals ranking first in the American League in batting average, homers and runs batted in. And that’s right where he’ll finish.

Cabrera went 0-for-2 with a strikeout on Wednesday night in Kansas City, but he walked off the field to a standing ovation from the Kauffman Stadium crowd when he was lifted as part of a double-switch in the bottom of the fourth inning. Because he had just locked up MLB’s first Triple Crown since 1967.

Cabrera winds up with a .330 batting average, 44 home runs and 139 RBI.

Carl Yastrzemski, the last Triple Crown winner, hit .326 with 44 homers and 121 RBI in his historical year.

The Angels’ Mike Trout will close out 2012 ranking second in batting at .326. Josh Hamilton and Curtis Granderson will wind up tied for second in dingers with 43. And Hamilton finishes second in RBI with 128.

Cabrera and the Tigers now advance to the ALDS, where they’ll take on the A’s beginning Saturday.

Video: Justin Verlander reaches career mark with 270th strikeout

Justin Verlander
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Justin Verlander is approaching the tail end of a fantastic year with the Astros — arguably one of his best in the last decade — and on Saturday, he kicked off his last regular season start at Minute Maid Park with a strikeout, his 270th of the year. While that’s still a few shy of Max Scherzer‘s league-best mark of 290, it was a new personal record for Verlander, who had yet to beat the previous career record he set with 269 strikeouts in 2009.

Verlander’s moment arrived at the top of the first inning on a seven-pitch called strikeout against the Angels’ Kole Calhoun. Cole worked a 2-2 count, then fouled off a pair of 95-MPH fastballs before missing the seventh and final pitch at the top of the strike zone.

Jose Fernandez battled twice as long in the next at-bat, albeit with far more disastrous results. His 14-pitch duel against the Astros’ righty ended when he caught a fastball on his hand and was forced to come out of the game.

After expending a total of 27 pitches in the first inning, however, Verlander returned in the second to strike out the side, then logged another pair of strikeouts in the third. With six strikeouts through three innings, he boosted his season strikeout total to 275 — just a hair above fellow Houston righty Gerrit Cole (and all other AL pitchers), who previously led the team with 272 whiffs on the year.