Boston — Well, on the plus side for the Tigers, the offense awakened in Boston. They scored 22 runs in the three games at Fenway, that after scoring 10 in the first six games on this trip, through Chicago and New York.
The downside, though, is the pitching and defense faltered, and after losing the finale to the Red Sox, 12-9, on Thursday, the Tigers come home with just two wins for their efforts.
“In a game like this that was all over the place and so much going on, any opportunity you give feels like it’s going to come back to bite you,” manager AJ Hinch said. “When you play a good team, they may give you a chance or two when you make mistakes like that — but not as many as we did today.”
The manner in which the Red Sox won the game in the bottom of the eighth told the tale of the day for the Tigers.
Having just taken a 9-8 lead on a clutch two-out single by Wilson Ramos, the Tigers made two errors (the second errors of the game for shortstop Niko Goodrum and third baseman Jeimer Candelario). There was also a two-out walk and wild pitch in the inning. And an RBI single by Alex Verdugo.
Four runs crossed, all unearned, all after reliever Alex Lange had punched-out Hunter Renfroe and Marwin Gonzalez.
Only five of the Red Sox 12 runs were earned.
“We just didn’t complete the plays,” Hinch said. “Just a lot of miscues that gave them extra opportunities. It wasn’t a clean defensive game on either side.”
Entertaining as it was, the film from this one probably won’t be sent to Cooperstown: 30 hits, six physical errors (four by the Tigers), a few more mental errors with a balk, a couple of wild pitches and a passed ball thrown in for good measure.
And, not for nothing, the Tigers were about out of pitching. Starter Spencer Turnbull lasted only three innings and 80 pitches.
“He was fighting everything,” Hinch said. “He wasn’t at his best and not executing consistently.”
Bad day for that. The Tigers, after a bullpen game on Tuesday and a 10-inning win on Wednesday, were pretty much out of relievers. By the eighth inning Thursday they’d already used Tyler Alexander, Buck Farmer and recently-activated Kyle Funkhouser.
Hinch said there were several pitchers he wanted to stay away from, namely Bryan Garcia, Jose Cisnero, Michael Fulmer and Gregory Soto, who’d been used heavily in this series.
That left Funkhouser, who pitched two strong innings, and Lange. And when Lange faltered in the eighth after the two strikeouts, Hinch had to use Soto, who threw 30 pitches on Wednesday.
“Funk did a great job of picking us up,” Hinch said. “He went as long as he could.”
The Tigers may have to bring in some fresh arms from Triple-A Toledo to start the Twins series on Friday.
“We will look at all our options and piece it back together,” Hinch said. “We are not in a good place with our pitching.”
The Tigers trailed 4-1 and 5-4 and rallied to take a 9-8 lead into the eighth. The offense, so dead, getting shutout twice in New York over the weekend, pounded out 14 hits and scored nine runs without a home run.
“Our at-bats were good the whole series,” Hinch said. “I know we walk out of here losing two of three, but our bats started to come alive. Our game plan tightened up, we were running the bases aggressively.
“Our whole offensive profile was much better as the series went along. That was encouraging.”
Harold Castro had three hits, including a two-run, game-tying single in the fourth. Ramos, who left the game in the eighth with lower back stiffness, had two hits and two RBIs.
Candelario had three hits and knocked in a run. He went 6-for-13 with five runs scored and four RBIs in this series and raised his average to .298.
Hinch said he didn’t think Ramos’ injury would keep him out of the lineup.
“He wasn’t overly concerned, he was just worried about his mobility behind the plate,” Hinch said. “That is an immediate removal for me. I’m not having him catch with a lack of mobility behind the plate.
“I wasn’t hearing anything major but he started grabbing his back when he got to third base (in the eighth), so we knew we were going to get him out.”
The Tigers come home with a 9-23 record.