You can’t blame the loss on Detroit Tigers reliever Phil Coke, who gave up a leadoff homer to Mark Trumbo in 13th inning Sunday — even though it was the decisive run in the Los Angeles Angels’ 4-3 victory.
Baseball can be such a funny game.
Sometimes the starting pitcher can’t get out of his own way, like Rick Porcello on Saturday. Sometimes the bullpen implodes, a la Jose Valverde in the playoffs last season.
Sometimes the most potent offense just can’t come up with the hits when they need them most.
For the Tigers, the latter is just what’s been happening of late. They’re getting more than enough runners on base but can’t seem to bring them home.
After scoring 20 runs in three games in Oakland and six in the first game in Seattle, the Tigers have managed just six runs in the five games since.
“It’s a learning experience for us,” catcher Brayan Pena told FOX Sports Detroit’s John Keating following the Tigers’ third straight loss to the Angels. “We know that we got a great team. We know that we’re better than what we’re playing. It’s just time, and hopefully, we can continue to play a little bit better.”
Justin Verlander allowed two earned runs in Thursday’s 2-0 loss in Seattle. Anibal Sanchez allowed two earned runs Friday against the Angels. And Doug Fister gave up two in Sunday’s finale against the Angels.
So, aside from Porcello, the starters have been pretty good.
Although Hisashi Iwakuma wasn’t really giving the Tigers much of a chance Thursday, Tommy Hanson was in and out of trouble all night Friday. Still, the Tigers were just 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position and left 12 men on base.
They didn’t have quite as many chances Saturday against Garrett Richards, yet the Tigers managed to go 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position, leaving five men on base.
By comparison’s sake, the Angels were 6-for-12 Friday with runners in scoring position, leaving eight on, and 7-for-12 Saturday with runners in scoring position, leaving only four on base.
Sunday was even worse for the Tigers. They seemingly had the bases loaded every inning, to no avail. They went 0-for-4 with the bases loaded.
“You gotta give them credit,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland told Keating. “He threw the ball well, (C.J.) Wilson, a little effectively wild. Turned out to be a great game.
“We had some chances and just couldn’t get the guy across the plate.”
Victor Martinez, who missed all of last season with a knee injury, went 0-for-6, including striking out with the bases loaded, and saw his average fall to .167.
“I think Victor will hit,” Leyland said. “I don’t think there’s any question about that. He’s been a little bit anxious to get back, but I thought today he was more patient, had some better at-bats.
“I’m not concerned about Victor. He’ll hit.”
Only Austin Jackson’s fielder’s choice RBI in the second inning and Prince Fielder’s two-run home run in the fifth prevented another sad shutout.
“We’re grinding,” Torii Hunter told Keating. “We’re trying to get runs across the plate, and it’s been tough for us. A 14-inning game and a 13-inning game on this road trip can really wear you out, but we don’t have no excuses.
“We need to try to relax on Monday. We’ve got a day off, kick back, watch some basketball and come back Tuesday ready to go.”
The Tigers will next face division rival Kansas City starting Tuesday, then will play host to the Atlanta Braves in their first interleague series of the season on the weekend.
The Tigers will finish the home stand against the Minnesota Twins.