DETROIT -- After Tigers center fielder Michael Mahtook crashed into the wall making a catch on Salvador Perez's deep fly ball, he returned to the dugout and hugged Justin Verlander. Mahtook thought he'd owed Verlander one, after not tracking down a ball in the first inning that turned into a
DETROIT -- After Tigers center fielder Michael Mahtook crashed into the wall making a catch on Salvador Perez's deep fly ball, he returned to the dugout and hugged Justin Verlander. Mahtook thought he'd owed Verlander one, after not tracking down a ball in the first inning that turned into a ground-rule double. Now they were even.
Mahtook's catch in Tuesday night's 5-3 win over the Royals was another example of a ball hit 400-plus feet that couldn't escape the deepest reaches of Comerica Park. The hard-luck dimensions have taken away would-be hits as well as any park in the Majors, tied with the Royals' Kauffman Stadium for the most outs of 400-plus feet (10).
But Mahtook said he thinks his home park plays fair to most hitters who can avoid the 420-foot wall in center with shorter porches in right (330 feet) and left (345 feet).
"Balls can get out to right, balls can get out to left, left-center," he said. "Right center is obviously the deepest part of the park, and that's just what makes our park unique."
Unfortunately for Perez, his fly ball in the fifth inning went to the deepest part of Comerica.
Perez, who entered Tuesday hitting .418 over his previous 14 games, mashed a first-pitch heater high and away to deep right-center. Mahtook, shaded toward left-center against the right-handed Perez, sprinted to the warning track.
Mahtook left his feet to catch the ball in the palm of his glove, crashing into the wall. He slowly rose and trotted to the dugout -- at which point Verlander raised his arms in celebration.
"I think every bone in my back and my body cracked," Mahtook said. "So at that point, I was just trying to get the air back into my lungs, and I just had to realize that I'm all right, I'm good."
Even Perez had to admire Mahtook's play, stopping between first and second to tip his helmet.
"He made a great play," Perez said. "But this is like the only park that's an out. That's the way it goes."
The odds were indeed in Perez's favor. His barreled ball had an exit velocity of 105.8 mph and a 30-degree launch angle, a combination that has resulted in a home run 94 percent of the time since Statcast™ debuted in 2015.
As Mahtook spoke to reporters after the game, his phone sat face up in his locker and flashed every few seconds with new text messages and Twitter notifications, presumably about his spectacular play.
"[J.D. Martinez] didn't even ask me if I was OK [after the catch]," Mahtook said. "He said, 'Hey, that's probably gonna be on [the TV highlights] tonight.'"
Jordan Horrobin is a reporter for MLB.com based in Detroit.