SEATTLE -- What could've been another rough night for the Tigers bullpen to cover innings became manageable Saturday thanks in large part to Evan Reed, whose struggles last week against the Indians and Rangers led to more work for others.
Pitching on five days' rest once Drew Smyly lasted just four innings, Reed faced the minimum six batters over the fifth and sixth innings, erasing Justin Smoak's fifth-inning single with a Kyle Seager double play.
Reed threw first-pitch strikes to all six batters he faced, and put four of them into 0-2 counts. He ended his outing with back-to-back strikeouts, fanning John Buck on a 1-2 slider before he caught Cole Gillespie watching the same pitch.
Ausmus said Reed has been working with pitching coach Jeff Jones on raising his front arm in his delivery to hide the ball better before he releases it.
"It seems like he's creating more deception on the ball," Ausmus said Sunday morning. "That's what I'm seeing the last two outings, definitely."
Cabrera completes impressive comeback month
SEATTLE -- For Miguel Cabrera, those April showers eventually brought May power.
Even by the two-time reigning AL MVP's standards, the final numbers from this past month were impressive. Considering where he stood at the end of April, they constituted a bounce back.
Cabrera's .380 (41-for-108) average was his highest ever for May, barely beating out his .379 May last year. Likewise, his solo homer Saturday night pushed him to 34 RBIs for May, his most ever for any calendar month, and the most by a Tiger in May since Damion Easley drove in 34 runs in May 1998.
Nobody in the American League drove in as many runs over the past month, including Baltimore's Nelson Cruz and Toronto's Edwin Encarnacion. Both of them topped Cabrera for home runs.
Compare May to Cabrera's April and the numbers look like they belong to different hitters. Cabrera batted .277 in the season's opening month with two home runs, 15 RBIs and a .735 OPS. He was getting back to regular-season work after core-muscle surgery over the offseason, but he was also frustrated with his swing and approach, leading to extra work with hitting coach Wally Joyner.
Even Ausmus chipped in, throwing early batting practice to Cabrera at times during the month.
"I've said it from the get-go: I'm not worried about Miggy," Ausmus said a couple weeks ago.
Cabrera drove in a run in 19 out of 29 games for the month, and plated multiple runs 11 times.
Romine frustrated over bunt attempt
SEATTLE -- The frustration was still evident in Andrew Romine's voice Sunday morning.
"I have to get that bunt down," Romine said, referring to Saturday night's ninth inning.
He knows a big part of his role involves being able to bunt runners over. He also knows that bunting a runner over against a closer is a different task than bunting in nearly any other inning, but it's his job.
In Saturday's case, he might have fallen victim to the challenge of bunting against former Tiger and current M's closer Fernando Rodney. The key to Rodney's success has always been the deceptiveness of his fastball-changeup combination. In a bunting situation, however, Rodney ditched the offspeed pitch and went all fastballs until Romine had two strikes and risked striking out with one more fouled bunt.
Romine missed a 91-mph fastball on the outside corner for strike one. He let a second-pitch fastball miss low for ball one, but ended up offering at a fastball on the next pitch. That one rose out of the strike zone, a pitch that bunters usually either miss entirely or pop up. In Romine's case, he got it down, but foul.
With two strikes and the bunt sign clearly off, Rodney went back to his changeup, sending Romine swinging and missing for the first out of the inning.
"The hardest pitch to bunt is a four-seam fastball up at 95," manager Brad Ausmus said. "That being said, we have to get the job done. We have to get the bunt down. But I'm not saying it's a given."
Romine was a bunting standout with the Angels last season, going 6-for-16 in sacrifice attempts. He had eight productive outs in 16 situations last season, either laying down a sacrifice bunt with one out, advancing a runner with nobody out, or driving in a run with the second out of an inning. He is 11-for-20 in his career.
He's 1-for-11 in productive out opportunities this season, though he has a bunt single and a sacrifice on the sac bunt attempts he has gotten down.
• Joel Hanrahan is scheduled to resume throwing off a mound this coming week, according to Ausmus. It's expected to be an all-fastballs session. Hanrahan, who signed with the Tigers almost exactly a month ago, has spent the past couple weeks building arm strength with long tossing and other workouts.
• Austin Jackson, who had just four multi-strikeout games over the first 41 games of the season, struck out twice Sunday for the fourth time on Detroit's week-long road trip. He's 10-for-70 with 19 strikeouts over his last 19 games, and finished 2-for-24 with nine strikeouts for the trip.