Sherlock Holmes would have a tough time solving the mystery that is the Tigers offense.
Like most teams, the Tigers have a fantastic 16-2 record when scoring five or more runs and a less exciting 12-19 record when scoring four or fewer.
Even though the Tigers won two of three in Oakland, they only scored four runs in those three games.
Stellar pitching performances from David Price in Tuesday’s 1-0 victory and from relievers Alex Wilson, Kyle Ryan, Al Alburquerque, Blaine Hardy, Joba Chamberlain and Joakim Soria in Wednesday’s 3-2 victory provided cover for the lack of scoring.
But Buck Farmer, called up to take the place of the injured Kyle Lobstein (sore left shoulder), couldn’t keep up the stingy pitching performances Wednesday night in Los Angeles.
Farmer allowed seven runs on nine hits and a walk in five innings-plus of a 12-2 loss to the Angels.
The tone was set in the first inning when Albert Pujols hit a two-run home run.
"He left the ball up to Pujols the first inning, but if he gets that pitch down, it’s probably a ground ball," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus told FOX Sports Detroit’s John Keating on the post-game show.
Former Tiger Matt Joyce hit another home run off of Farmer in the second inning.
The pitch to Pujols was one that Farmer might have gotten away with in Triple-A but not at the big league level.
"I think after the Pujols home run he was upset with himself and we just kept trying to get him to relax and know that his stuff is good enough, he doesn’t need to try and make it better," catcher James McCann told Keating. "I think he finally realized that there and was able to cruise for a couple of innings."
But there was no offense to help Farmer.
The Tigers got one run in the third when C.J. Wilson hit Miguel Cabrera with the bases loaded and another in the top of the ninth on Jose Iglesias’ RBI double.
"We didn’t really do much," Ausmus said. "We didn’t pitch great, we didn’t hit great. We got a few hits at the end but the game was out of hand. You’re not going to win many games when you’re not hitting or pitching."
It is the 23rd time this season and seventh time in the last 11 games that the Tigers have scored two or fewer runs.
In their last four games, the Tigers are hitting .192 with just three extra-base hits, one home run and seven RBI. They have 32 strikeouts in that span.
"I do think guys, they want so badly to do well, to be the hero, to put the team on your shoulders, that sometimes they put pressure on themselves," Ausmus said. "The lack of offense has been a recurring theme but in my mind, the recurring theme will eventually be that this team is too good offensively to continue to do this."
The Tigers actually lead the AL in hits with 458 but that has not translated into leading the league in runs.
The Tigers are ninth in the AL in runs scored with 206.
A lot of that has to do with the fact that the Tigers lead all of baseball in grounding into double plays, which they have done 53 times.
The New York Mets are second at 44 and the Chicago White Sox are third at 43.
"Of course it’s frustrating," McCann said. "Anytime you don’t put up runs, it’s frustrating. We also understand it’s a long season and the guys in this clubhouse have produced over the long haul and it’ll be interesting to ask that question in September."
The Tigers have also not done well at Angel Stadium, having lost 10 of their last 11 there.
FOX Sports Detroit analyst Rod Allen made a frightening prediction.
"(Anibal) Sanchez is going to have to go out there and throw a shutout (Friday) for his team to win this game," Allen said.
While perfectly capable when he’s going well, Sanchez has struggled this season, going 3-5 with a 6.12 ERA and 1.33 WHIP.
So it would behoove the offense to score more than two runs off Angels lefty Hector Santiago.