Getting swept in a four-game series to the previously struggling Minnesota Twins wasn’t what the Detroit Tigers expected heading into the All-Star break.
Their crazy 12-9, 10-inning loss on Sunday left a bad taste in the mouths. Manager AJ Hinch hopes his team can take its mind off a baseball for a few days. That’s exactly what he has planned.
“I’m going to get away from the game,” he said Sunday. “I’m going to practice what I preach.”
He certainly doesn’t preach issuing a dozen walks but that’s what his pitchers did in the finale of the series on Sunday.
Jorge Polanco’s three-run homer off Derek Holland was the final blow.
“This whole series is defined by not executing as well as we normally do and not keeping them in the ballpark.” Hinch said.
This was a wild roller coaster. The Tigers took a 4-0 lead, gave it back and trailed 8-5 heading into the ninth, then got a go-ahead grand slam from Jake Rogers.
“Disappointed, but we fought back,” Hinch said. “We gave ourselves every chance to win it.”
Ben Rortvedt tied it in the bottom of the inning with a solo homer off Holland.
The Tigers will get a chance to extract some revenge at home, as they face the Twins again in a four-game series starting with a doubleheader on Friday.
“We’re going to go to the break and forget about it,” Rogers said. “We’re going to come back and punch them first and get some wins.”
Hinch doesn’t expect his players to simply lie for a few days but he doesn’t want them dwelling on the past, either.
“These are athletes. They’re not just going to sit on their rear ends for three straight days but a mental and physical break can do us a lot of good,” he said. “We’ll reconvene on Thursday with the workout and then jump right back in against this club with the doubleheader on Friday.”
Though the Tigers enter the break 11 games under .500, Hinch is still generally pleased with the team’s growth. They had a woeful April but followed that up with two winning months in May and June.
“Generally speaking, when people talk about how good you’re going to be at the beginning of the season, you’re either going to prove them right or you’re going to prove them wrong. In this instance, we wanted to prove them wrong,” he said. “Teams thought that we were going to be at the back end of the division and we were going to have a losing record. Then we go out in April and it sort of piled up on us. There was a lot of stress and tension and angst over our April record. Then I think we flipped it with a couple of winning months.”
There are still issues. The starting staff is banged up. The lineup still has difficulty squeezing out runs. But Hinch sees one other thing that his club can improve upon in the second half of the season that will produce better results.
“When you take a step back and look at it, we’ve got to improve our defense,” he said. “That’s the thing that I’m going to continue to harp on. We can be a good defensive team, we can get better in certain areas.”