Salvador Perez provided the biggest swing of the Kansas City Royals season on Wednesday, delivering a go-ahead grand slam in the eighth inning of their 6-4 win against the Boston Red Sox. But it’s possible that moment would have never happened without an unlikely assist from friend, fellow countryman and future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera.
As we learned once Perez got back to the Royals dugout, the bat Perez used for the game-winning slam actually belonged to Cabrera.
As MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan writes, the story behind the bat traces back to a Tigers-Royals series in May and an on-field conversation between Cabrera and Perez’s backup, Drew Butera.
The story starts when the Tigers were in town at the end of May. Royals backup catcher Drew Butera picked up Miguel Cabrera’s bat after Cabrera hit a long foul ball and handed it back to him at the plate. But as Butera was handing the bat back, he kidded with Cabrera that he really liked the feel and the weight (32 ounces) of it.
“I like to use heavier bats in batting practice,” Butera said. “The next day, he sent me over two of his bats, which was pretty nice.”
We’re guessing the Detroit Tigers slugger didn’t anticipate his bat helping a division rival pull off a such a dramatic victory.
Miguel Cabrera on Salvador Perez hitting a grand slam with bat he gave Drew Butera: "He got my good bats."
— Jason Beck (@beckjason) June 21, 2017
Cabrera was in a joking mood about it. Tigers fans might not enjoy the irony so much as the outcome could have big implications on the A.L. Central standings. Kansas City entered play Wednesday 3 1/2 games back while Detroit came in 5 1/2 games behind the first-place Indians.
Of course, who’s swinging the bat is far more important than the bat itself. But maybe there’s something to be said for changing things up every now and then.
Perez turned to Cabrera’s bat after his 10-game hitting streak came to an end on Tuesday. He finished Wednesday’s game 3-for-3, including the slam, two singles and a walk. That might be enough to convince Perez to stick with Cabrera’s bat for the time being. And it might be enough to make Cabrera reconsider so casually giving away his prized lumber.
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