If Detroit Tigers sell at trade deadline, they can only blame themselves

Detroit Free Press

Surely, the Detroit Tigers would win this series against the weak, feeble Oakland A’s.

Surely, they would take advantage of playing against a team that entered Wednesday at 24-63, 1½ games behind the next-worst team in the majors. This was the Tigers’ chance to make up ground in the American League Central. To climb up the standings. To beat the lowly A’s. To prove they should, at the very least, hold onto assets at the trade deadline.

Ugh — nope. Not on this night.

“There’s not a lot of good to talk about tonight,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said Wednesday night after the A’s beat the Tigers, 12-3.

And it didn’t even feel that close.

WEDNESDAY’S LOSS: Tigers avoid shutout, but get smashed by Oakland Athletics, 12-3

TUESDAY’S STINKER: In return to Tigers, Tarik Skubal shows why he can be ‘one of the best pitchers’

The Tigers have now lost two straight against a team that has been swept 11 times this season.

“They are missed opportunities to win some games,” Hinch said. “I mean, I would take that approach against anybody, off any road trip, or off any homestand. Sting more? Sting less? They are losses, so they sting about the same. I hate them all pretty much the same.”

Oh, there was plenty to hate about this game.

Plenty that stings about the way the Tigers have opened this series.

“We need to do better at the beginning of the game, the middle of the game and even the end of the game,” Hinch said.

Yep. That about covers it.

But still, it was confounding.

Because of who they were playing against.

Because of how the Tigers played.

Surely, the Tigers would have no problem facing A’s opener Austin Pruitt. It was the ninth time the A’s have used an opener this year, and those pitchers were 1-3 with a 7.56 ERA.

Ugh — nope. Pruitt not only blanked the Tigers, but didn’t even allow a hit.

Surely, even after falling behind early, the Tigers would fight back. Because they were playing against a team that had blown 27 leads.

Ugh — nope.

Surely, the Tigers would hit some homers against the A’s — Oakland had given up 125 homers, the most in team history before the All-Star break.

Ugh — nope. Not only did the Tigers end up with no homers, they barely hit the ball hard.

Surely, the Tigers would get some free passes and take advantage of Oakland’s wildness — A’s pitchers lead MLB in walks, hit batters and wild pitches. (Well, that last one is a tie, at least.)

Ugh — nope. The Tigers didn’t draw a walk until Miguel Cabreras’ free pass in the sixth inning.

Surely, the Tigers would abuse the A’s bullpen, right? I mean, the Oakland bullpen came into this game with the highest relief ERA in the majors (5.71), which doesn’t even include allowing 41.1% (second-worst in MLB) of inherited base runners to score.

Ugh — nope.

Surely, the Tigers would come out hot. Come out fighting and determined to put up good at-bats.

Ugh — nope.

The Tigers didn’t score against Oakland until the 18th inning of this series — thanks to the old guys. Cabrera doubled to right field, driving home Jonathan Schoop, who had also walked.

The crowd gave a huge ovation — if you are gonna sit through a hot, miserable baseball game, you might as well see a future Hall of Famer pick up his 3,127th hit.

Surely, the Tigers would show some more offense than on Tuesday night, when they were blanked 1-0 in a 10-inning shutout.

Ugh — nope. Again, they were held scoreless over the first 17 innings of this series.

Surely, the Tigers would reward their fans for showing up on a hot, sweaty night.

Ugh — nope.

Surely, the Tigers would pick up some runs against the A’s — Oakland came into this game with a 5.99 ERA, on pace to be the worst in the first half in franchise history — which dates back to 1901.

Ugh — nope.

It was horrible. Inexecusable. Downright embarrassing.

One positive on this night

Surely, this would be the perfect team for Eduardo Rodriguez to shake off some rust, right?

The A’s came into this game ranking last in in the majors in batting average (.219), slugging percentage (.349), OPS (.648), runs scored (308) and extra-base hits (205).

But Rodriguez came out looking rusty, which was understandable, coming off of a finger injury.

But the Tigers didn’t help him.

Esteury Ruiz, Oakland’s leadoff batter and MLB’s leader in steals, got on by a bunt — a poorly defended play. He then stole second and scored from third on a sac fly.

After a real single by Jordan Diaz and a couple of outs, Ryan Noda hit a 3-0 fastball 397 feet.

Suddenly, the Tigers were losing 3-0.

“We messed up the bunt,” Hinch said. “That created an inning for them. They get a base hit, first and third before you look up.”

Rodriguez finished with seven strikeouts and no walks in four innings of work.

“Health wise — he checked out great, which is very important and the positive take out of it,” Hinch said. “You know it was a weird game for him because I thought his stuff was okay. He did get a lot of strikeouts.”

So that might be the only positive to come out of this game.

Rodriguez will be a trade chip if the Tigers fall apart in July.

Which looked probable on this night.

If the Tigers are sellers at the trade deadline, if they are out of it in a few weeks, they can only blame themselves after a series like this.

You just want to scream

Sometimes, you wanna get in the Tigers faces and scream at them:

Do you realize what you are wasting?

Do you realize who you are playing?

They came into this game 5½ games out of first place in the AL Central. That’s the best situation the Tigers have had on July 5 since 2014 — that year, they were actually four games up.

But pfft.

Another opportunity wasted.

Hinch, bless his heart, tried to find the positives.

Tried to convince himself that a few late at-bats are a positive.

“At the end of the game, our bats got a little bit better, which is like I said, I’m gonna be encouraged to go in tomorrow,” he said. “We’ve been pretty good about bouncing back from messy games like this.”

Yep, that’s a positive way to look at this.

They play an early game on Thursday.

A chance to wipe this away.

Surely, the Tigers won’t get swept by the A’s, right?

Contact Jeff Seidel at jseidel@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @seideljeff.

To read Seidel’s recent columns, go to freep.com/sports/jeff-seidel.

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