DETROIT -- Give Michael Mahtook some credit Sunday. The Tigers left fielder's sense of timing wasn't good on Indians slugger Jose Ramirez's first-inning home run at Comerica Park. His sense of history afterwards was pretty sharp.
"It's not like I got hit in the head and it bounced over," Mahtook said, referring to Jose Canseco's ill-fated attempt at a Carlos Martinez fly ball in 1993. "It was a ball that hit off the top of the wall twice. My initial reaction after the first [bounce] was to try and bat it in, and then when I jumped in the air, once I realized it was toward me, I tried to catch it. And obviously I didn't do that."
Mahtook did the opposite, knocking the ball over the fence for the first of two assisted Ramirez home runs and five extra-base hits.
Considering the Indians' 11-1 victory, one run didn't make much of a difference. Considering the Tigers suffered their first-ever four-game series sweep to the Tribe in Detroit -- and their first four-game series sweep against anybody at Comerica Park since 2004 -- it was a microcosm of the Tigers' frustration as they wind down a lost season and wind up a rebuilding project.
Mahtook had never seen a ball like that hit twice off the top of a fence before. Considering the angle at which Ramirez hit the ball, it was a freaky play for it to bounce like that. Statcast™ pegged the launch angle off the bat at 19 degrees and its top elevation at 45 feet before it landed.
Mahtook didn't have enough time to get back to the fence. He waited for the bounce, expecting the ball to hop back to him, then had to change his approach once the ball bounced straight up.
"I've never seen a ball do that," Mahtook said. "So from my angle, after it hit first, I thought it was going to go over, so I made my decision that I was going to try to bat it in. By the time I made my decision to jump, it came back this way."
He was already jumping when it did, so there was no changing his path. He either had to try to catch it or let it bounce back over his head and onto the field of play.
"I tried to catch it, and obviously didn't, and I knocked it out," Mahtook said.
It was a bad bounce for the Tigers in a bad weekend. Though it still gave them a chance to laugh a little amid a rough stretch.
"Guys gave me a hard time coming into the dugout," Mahtook said.
Ramirez homered again on a somewhat similar play in the sixth inning. His loft to right field was hit at a higher angle, giving Alex Presley a chance to make a leap at it. Presley reached his glove over the fence but couldn't hold onto the ball, losing it on the other side of the fence.
As for the frustration factor, Mahtook said, "I'm not going to tell you nobody in here is frustrated. Nobody likes to lose the way that we've been losing. But that's the competitive part of playing. That's where the frustration comes. We're frustrated at just the result of what's happening. Everybody has to look at themselves and go out and come back here the next day and figure out what they need to do internally to compete and motivate themselves."
Mahtook will most likely have to look at himself on highlights quite a few times this weekend.