Detroit — Tigers manager AJ Hinch was saying, hours before Monday night’s game, that you can’t worry about yesterday. You’ve gotta focus on today.
Of course, reality is, todays always eventually turn into yesterdays — and that’s a problem for the Tigers, whose yesterdays, todays and tomorrows have all been pretty awful lately.
For the second consecutive game, the Tigers were shut out — they haven’t scored a run in 24 innings — and this time, making matters worse, it was by the Oakland A’s, who came into the opener of an odd five-game series having lost nine straight. They beat the Tigers, 2-0, and Detroit now has lost six straight. Hinch and Javy Baez were ejected in the ninth inning of the latest loss, as the Tigers’ tempers flared.
“We have not played well, so you try not to carry everything into the game,” Hinch said afterward. “There’s growing frustration across the board inside.
“We’re getting beat in relatively close games for the most part, and we expect more out of ourselves.”
And, turns out, they expect more of the umpires. But more on that in a second.
The truth is, any way you slice it, the Tigers managed just four hits against the A’s — a single by Baez in the first (matching the Tigers’ hit total from Sunday), a single by Tucker Barnhart in the third, a double by Austin Meadows in the fourth and a single by Jonathan Schoop in the seventh.
Of course, Schoop’s single in the seventh wasn’t hit nearly as hard as his scorching line drive that was caught at third base in the fourth, ending that inning and stranding Meadows at second.
For the night, the Tigers actually had more hard-hit balls than the A’s.
So, sure, there’s been some bad luck involved, if that makes you feel any better.
But the Tigers also never had more than one runner in any one inning, until a pair of walks in the ninth. After the Baez single in the first, Miguel Cabrera lined to first base, doubling off Baez.
After the soft Barnhart single in the third, Derek Hill, oddly, bunted with one out, and it essentially served as a sacrifice — and a bridge to nowhere when Robbie Grossman struck out looking. (He had a legit beef and said his piece, as did Hinch, before letting that one go.)
Schoop then finally discovered a hole for a single with two out in the seventh inning, only for Jeimer Candelario to ground out to end that, well, sure let’s call it a threat.
The offense is so lifeless right now, a “tickets distributed” crowd of 12,674 ooh’d and ahh’d over several Tigers flyballs … each of which settled safely into the gloves of A’s outfielders, dozens of feet from the warning track. Then again, hard to blame the fans. The Tigers have hit one home run at home since April 14.
A’s pitcher Paul Blackburn (4-0) went 6.2 innings, striking out three and walking nobody.
A’s closer Dany Jimenez then worked around a little bit of wildness to pick up his fifth save in the ninth inning, when tensions finally got the best of the Tigers — Baez was ejected by plate umpire Nick Mahrley after arguing a called third strike, before Hinch followed him to the exits.
Miguel Cabrera then struck out swinging before Meadows walked to put the tying runs on the bases, and then Schoop struck out to end the game. Grossman was stranded on second following a leadoff walk.
Hinch said afterward that Baez didn’t deserve to be ejected. Hinch said, “Javy said nothing that you wouldn’t say in front of your mother.” Bally Sports Detroit mics caught Baez dropping the f-word several times, including telling Mahrley, “You don’t give a (bleep).”
The frustrations weren’t just about that one pitch. The Tigers hitters felt an expanded zone all night; Hinch said he had issues with a couple calls on Grossman and Baez, one on Schoop later in the ninth, and one against Tigers starter Michael Pineda, among others.
“He had a hard night, a bad night,” Hinch said of Mahrley.
“I mean, let’s see, trying to word this correctly here,” Barnhart said with a smile, wanting nothing to do with a fine. “I think anytime as a hitter when you’re behind in the count and the pitcher’s ahead, it puts you on the defensive. … When you’re kind of on the defensive, behind in the count, it’s tough to hit.”
In the end, the Tigers wasted a pretty good start from Michael Pineda (1-2), who went 6.2 innings, allowed two runs on six hits and two walks, and struck out four. His slider was very good. He gave up a solo home run to right to Tony Kemp in the third inning on a poorly located change-up, and then an RBI single to Chad Pinder in the fourth inning, after Sean Murphy doubled to lead off the fourth, then went to third on a deep fly.
In any event, not bad at all for Pineda — pitching, despite all the injuries, hasn’t been a problem at all — but not perfect, either. And with this Tigers offense, well, you get it. Rony Garcia, just back from Toledo, was actually perfect, for two innings.
“You know, it’s a little bit tough for everybody here because we want to win and we’re doing everything for winning,” said Pineda, who had a season high for innings and pitches (94). “We want to continue grinding and keeping your head up, and coming every day and doing everything we need to do to win.”
The Tigers, actually, are doing some things well — but they’re doing one big thing particularly horribly.
The Tigers on Monday boasted a lineup making $83.25 million in 2022. They’ve scored 78 runs in 28 games.
The Tigers, who dropped to 9.5 games out of first in the American League Central (it’s May 9, people), will continue their series with the A’s with a doubleheader Tuesday, starting at 1:10. And it’s a straight doubleheader, meaning if you’re so inclined, you can get two games for a single ticket.
And if you’re lucky, you might see more than four Tigers hits … for the day, at least.
But no promises.
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