Detroit — The day off helped.
Miguel Cabrera knows the paying customers were unhappy that manager Brad Ausmus gave both he and left fielder Justin Upton a mental health day on Sunday, but he said it was worth it.
“Days off always help,” Cabrera said before the game. “Even if you don’t like it, you’ve got to take a day off because sometimes you’ve got to clear your mind.”
Cabrera came back on Monday with a vengeance, going 4-for-4 with two home runs and four RBIs.
“Sometimes you’ve got to sit down and think what you are doing wrong,” he said. “You have to see the game from the outside and it gives you a different idea about what you’ve got to do and what you are doing wrong.
“When you are out there every day, you don’t have time to think about what’s wrong with my swing. Because you are feeling good and everything. But when you sit out, you see everything and you can just calm down and let it happen.”
Cabrera was hitting .206 before Monday. He had just one home run and hadn’t had a hit in 13 straight at-bats. He hit a home run to right field in his first at-bat, doubled down the left-field line his second, homered to right again in his third and singled to left in his final at-bat.
“It was only one game,” Cabrera said. “Nothing’s changed. I still have to go out and do my job today. I’ve got to keep moving forward.”
Still, the Tigers were encouraged to see the opposite-field power again, as well as seeing Cabrera turn and pull the baseball with authority.
“What I saw with the two home runs, which had been missing recently, was the carry past the wall, as opposed to the ball getting out there and dying,” Ausmus said. “He was coming across the ball a little bit. Now he’s getting through the ball and that’s when you get that push to carry the ball farther.”
To Cabrera, though, the difference was more in his pitch selection and plate discipline than his swing mechanics.
“When you swing at a lot of balls, swing at balls out of the strike zone, (a slump) is going to happen,” he said. “You’ve got to do adjustments every at-bat, every pitch.”
According to research on FanGraphs.com, Cabrera has swung at 49.3 percent of the pitches he’s seen this season — 28 percent of those have been outside the strike zone. Consequently, his contact rate of 76.9 percent is his lowest since 2007.
“Just seeing strikes,” he said. “I have to swing at strikes. They’ve been trying to expand my zone.”
The multi-home run game was the 34th of Cabrera’s career, 25 of them with the Tigers. That ties Norm Cash for fourth most in team history. He’s chasing Hank Greenberg (32), Cecil Fielder (29) and Willie Horton (26).
Cabrera has had multi-homer games in all 14 of his big league seasons. According to Elias, only Willie McCovey (17 straight seasons) and Dave Kingman (16) have had a longer run of multi-homer seasons.
Must still feel pretty good, even after all these years, huh Miggy?
“When you don’t have a hit for three weeks,” he said, with a sardonic tone, “yeah, that’s for sure.”