The Blue Jays designated hitter used a bat from his old San Francisco days against his former team Tuesday night and it worked in a big way. Cabrera had a season-high four hits and scored twice in Toronto's 10-6 win over the Giants.
"He can hit, he's always been a good hitter," said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons. "Early on he struggled like just about everybody else. Now he's starting to feel it a little bit."
It was a memorable day for Cabrera, who received his World Series ring from Giants manager Bruce Bochy while in the weight room before the game. Cabrera was leading the National League with a .346 batting average last season when he was given a 50-game suspension after a positive test for testosterone.
The Giants didn't put Cabrera on their post-season roster and still won the World Series. Cabrera signed a US$16-million, two-year deal with the Blue Jays in the off-season.
Speaking through translator Luis Rivera, Cabrera said he had a conversation with Bochy before the game.
"He said (Bochy) told him that he knew he contributed for that team to win and was a big part of that team that made it to the World Series," Rivera said for Cabrera. "People make mistakes and you just continue to play and move on."
Bochy said Cabrera was a good teammate while with the Giants.
"He played hard every day, he did a lot of good things for us," Bochy said. "It's unfortunate what happened, we all make mistakes. He was a good guy to have on the club, he did all that we asked."
As for the lumber with the orange No. 53, Cabrera said he left some bats in San Francisco from last season and a Giants' clubhouse staffer sent them to him before the two-game interleague mini-series.
"He might get fired," Rivera joked.
It seemed like every Toronto player had a season high of some kind in a game that would have been a blowout had Giants slugger Pablo Sandoval not hit a three-run shot with two outs in the ninth.
Toronto starter R.A. Dickey had a season-high 10 strikeouts, Canadian Brett Lawrie had a season-high three hits and the Blue Jays had a season-high 18 hits on the night.
"We've got some good hitters, some of the better hitters in the game," Gibbons said. "We always felt it was just a matter of time. They were feeling it, they were all trying to do the job."
Cabrera helped spark Toronto's six-run first inning. He reached on an error to start things off and later drove in the sixth run of the frame as the Blue Jays sent 11 batters to the plate against Giants starter Barry Zito (3-2).
That was more than enough support for Dickey (3-5), who had his knuckleball floating nicely over his six-inning effort, allowing two earned runs and six hits. Relievers Brett Cecil, Brad Lincoln and Esmil Rogers finished things off in front of 31,753 fans at Rogers Centre.
"The offensive output is great," Dickey said. "It's great to see a lot of guys get involved. It was a real community win tonight.
"It can be fun when that happens."
San Francisco (23-16) had its three-game winning streak come to an end. Toronto (16-24) extended its winning streak to three games with the victory over the National League West leaders.
In the first inning, Cabrera took advantage of a Sandoval throwing error to reach second base. Jose Bautista walked and Edwin Encarnacion's flare to right field scored Cabrera and moved Bautista to third, with Encarnacion taking second base on the throw home.
Mark DeRosa followed with a liner that nearly hit Encarnacion on its way to centre field. Bautista scored and Encarnacion came around too when outfielder Angel Pagan bobbled the ball and was late with his throw.
Colby Rasmus and Emilio Bonifacio added RBI singles before Cabrera drove in Rasmus with the sixth run of the frame.
Zito settled down after that but the Giants were unable to get a significant rally going against Dickey. San Francisco got on the board in the second inning when Nick Noonan hit an RBI single that scored Hunter Pence.
In the fourth, Brandon Belt made it a four-run game with a solo shot that hit the facing of the second deck in right-centre field. It was Belt's fifth home run of the season.
Toronto knocked Zito out of the game in the sixth inning and went on to score three runs off reliever George Kontos in the frame.
Cabrera got things started again with a two-out single, moved to third on a Bautista single and scored on a double by Encarnacion. Pinch-hitter Adam Lind reached on an infield single that scored Bautista.
Lawrie, from Langley, B.C., drove in Encarnacion for Toronto's ninth run. The Blue Jays added another run in the seventh inning when Cabrera drove in Bonifacio, who had reached on a single.
Zito allowed 12 hits, eight runs (five earned), two walks and had two strikeouts.
Sandoval's late blast was his seventh homer of the season. Rogers relieved Lincoln and needed just two pitches to get the final out.
Toronto outhit San Francisco 18-10. The game took two hours 54 minutes to play.
Notes: Ramon Ortiz (0-1) is scheduled to start for the Blue Jays on Wednesday. San Francisco will counter with fellow right-hander Ryan Vogelsong (1-3). Ortiz is filling in for right-hander Brandon Morrow, who had his scheduled start bumped until the weekend as a precaution. Morrow experienced neck pain and back spasms last week. ... The Blue Jays have an off-day Thursday before heading to New York for a three-game weekend series against the Yankees. ... Toronto right-hander Sergio Santos will undergo elbow surgery in the coming days and is expected to be out of the lineup for six weeks. General manager Alex Anthopoulos calls it a "minor cleanup" to shave down bone spurs and clean out loose bodies in the right elbow area. ... Cabrera, who has been nursing tight hamstrings this season, is scheduled to undergo an MRI exam Wednesday. It's believed his left hamstring has been giving him the most trouble. ... Pence lost the grip on his bat after a swing in the fifth inning. A fan sitting six rows behind the Toronto dugout caught it on the fly and received a round of applause for his effort. Pence got a new bat and used it to swat a double into the gap in left-centre field.