DETROIT — It was a little easier to overlook the lack of offense when the Tigers were sweeping the Toronto Blue Jays out of town.
But the fact is, the Tigers haven’t been scoring a whole lot lately.
Including Friday night’s 2-1 loss to Zack Greinke and the Los Angeles Angels, the Tigers have scored just 44 runs in their last 12 games, which equates to about 3.67 runs per game.
The record says it all. When the Tigers score five or more runs, they’re 47-11. When they score four or fewer, they’re 20-47.
Manager Jim Leyland didn’t seem too worried about it.
“I think you have to look at the overall picture,” Leyland said. “There’s some nights where maybe a guy didn’t pitch quite so good and you just didn’t do enough. And there’s other nights where maybe you get a guy like Greinke that locates the ball really good, stayed out of the middle of the plate for the most part.
“I think it’s a combination of both those things.”
There’s no question that Greinke is a good pitcher, a former Cy Young winner as his former Milwaukee Brewers teammate Prince Fielder pointed out.
“He definitely was hitting his spots,” said Fielder, who was 0 for 2 with a walk against Greinke. “I feel like he didn’t make any mistakes. When you do that, that’s what happens.”
Greinke had struggled since joining the Angels, allowing 22 runs in his five starts – 20 in his last four.
You wouldn’t have known it Friday night. The Tigers got five hits off of him, the only damaging one a solo homer by – who else? – Miguel Cabrera, operating with two bad ankles.
“That’s a veteran guy,” Leyland said of Greinke. “He’s an excellent pitcher and he didn’t overpower us.
“He kind of got a little extra when he needed to. He threw a fastball a couple times, maybe in a curveball situation. He located the ball very well.”
Or as more than one player said, “That’s baseball.”
“Sometimes you score two runs and win, sometimes you score a ton and don’t,” Alex Avila said. “I mean, you can blame Zack Greinke if you want.”
That’s fine, sometimes you do credit the other team’s pitcher. But if you’re trying to get to the postseason and then win once you get there, there’s going to be many pitchers like Greinke.
Then you have to find a way. Don’t keep swinging at the first pitch and try to foul a few off until you get one you can handle.
There’s another concern when it comes to the offense. Cabrera also hit a double in the game and didn’t look so great running to second base. His ankles are clearly bothering him.
“I’m concerned about it,” Leyland said about when Cabrera might be able to play third base. “After watching tonight, obviously he looked good at the plate and very comfortable. But moving around, you would have to say there was some question.
“We’ll just have to wait and see.”
Although Leyland will try to keep him in the lineup at least at designated hitter, he might have to sit Cabrera a game or two if things don’t improve.
If that happens, then what does a struggling offense do?
With or without Cabrera, the Tigers are going to have to get some offense from some other guys.