There’s magic in Miggy’s bat — for Royals’ Sal Perez

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera  playfully touches the beard of a Seattle Mariners fan with his glove after Cabrera followed a foul ball that went into the stands in the sixth inning Wednesday night.

Seattle — It’s a good thing Miguel Cabrera has a great sense of humor — and irony. Otherwise, his reaction to the Royals’ Salvador Perez hitting a winning grand slam with one of Cabrera’s bats Wednesday might have been more bitter in tone.

“I gave him all my good bats,” he said, smiling.

Actually, it was Royals backup catcher Drew Butera who had asked Cabrera to send him a couple of his bats. Cabrera obliged and Butera lent one to Perez — which he used to beat the Red Sox.

“I’m going to tell him, ‘Send my bats back,’ ” Cabrera joked.

Here’s the rub: While Perez is hitting grand slams with his bat, Cabrera continues to hit rockets that end up as outs.

Cabrera has a career-best, and major-league leading 30-percent line drive rate, according to Fan Graphs. His hard-hit rate of 47.5 percent ranks fifth in baseball. Yet, he’s hitting .267 with seven home runs.

Third baseman Nick Castellanos is going through the same thing. His line-drive rate (26 percent) ranks fourth and his hard-hit rate (49 percent) is fourth. He’s hitting .226 with eight home runs.

“They’ve both been very unlucky,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “Both have hit the ball hard and got nothing to show for it.”

Cabrera has not made an out on an infield pop-up this season, in 245 plate appearances. Castellanos made his first infield pop out last week. But they very easily might be among the league leaders in fly outs to the warning track.

“That’s what makes baseball and hitting so hard,” Ausmus said. “You can do everything absolutely right and get nothing for it. Compound that by having a couple of those at-bats a day over a few weeks and it gets frustrating, very frustrating. And completely unfair.

“That’s why I say, baseball has a lot of negative reinforcement.”

The trick, Ausmus said, is for hitters to resist the temptation to make changes when they are in such a run of bad luck.

“You don’t want to change anything because you are doing everything right,” Ausmus said. “Your instinct is you have to fix it when really nothing is broken. You are doing everything right — you’ve just been unlucky.”

No challenge

Replays showed that Warwick Saupold picked Guillermo Heredia off at first base in the ninth inning Tuesday night. He was called safe by umpire Mark Carlson, and replays showed that his hand came up off the base when Cabrera applied a swipe tag.

Ausmus asked for a video review and the umpires sent it to the video headquarters in New York. But crew chief Fieldin Culbreth informed Ausmus the play was not reviewable.

“I knew I couldn’t challenge whether the runner was knocked off the base or not,” Ausmus said. “I was challenging the call. They never indicated that Miggy had knocked him off.”

But, as Ausmus was later informed, Carlson told Culbreth that Cabrera had knocked Heredia’s hand off the base. Thus, by rule, the play could not be reviewed.

Why they bothered to go to New York in the first place was unclear.

“Maybe they were unaware it was not challengeable,” Ausmus said. “Maybe they just wanted to double-check it with New York.”

Another option?

As the Tigers continue to search for a third reliable arm for the back end of the bullpen, Saupold has gotten two recent opportunities to pitch in that role. Ausmus, though, said it wasn’t an audition.

“A lot has to do with who is available and who can pitch that inning,” he said.

Alex Wilson was unavailable to pitch on Tuesday, which is why Saupold got the call.

“But Saupold has pitched pretty well overall,” Ausmus said. “Maybe we would use him. I am not going to say we won’t. … I do think on a given day we may use him in that situation. But we’d have to be careful. We’d have to make sure Chad Bell (long reliever) is available, too, in case the game got tied up.”

Around the horn

Tuesday’s loss dropped the Tigers to 14-22 on the road. They are 8-16 in their last 24 road games.

… The Mariners made a change in their rotation. Veteran Yovani Gallardo, who was scheduled to start in the finale, was sent to the bullpen. Rookie Andrew Moore was called up from Triple-A Tacoma to start Thursday.

Ausmus was told Moore looks like an accountant. To which he replied, "I hope he pitches like an accountant."

Tigers at Mariners

First pitch: 10:10 p.m. Thursday

TV/radio: FSD/97.1

Scouting report

RHP Yovani Gallardo (3-7, 6.30), Mariners: It’s been a rough stretch for the veteran. Over his last four starts he’s been pounded for 18 runs in 21 innings, with opponents hitting .305 against him. Odd stat: He’s pitched 284 games, faced 3,300-plus left-handed batters and 3,500-plus righties. Each side is hitting exactly .253 against him.

LHP Daniel Norris (4-4, 4.42), Tigers: The club has won four of his last five starts, which is the pertinent stat. But he’s also seems to have settled in after a wildly inconsistent first couple of months. His curveball (129 thrown, .130 opponents’ average) and change-up (175 thrown, .161) have been effective. @cmccosky