Nothing is coming easy for Tigers as losing streak climbs to five games

Miguel Cabrera hits a single in the fourth inning against the Oakland Athletics.

DETROIT — Baseball just isn’t fun right now for the Tigers, and it sounds counterintuitive, but it’s going to have to be for things to turn around.

That’s a lot easier said than done when the losing streak climbs to five games and every little thing seems to go against you.

The things that come easily when things are going well — timely hits, good defensive plays and solid pitching — are the things that seem so difficult when things aren’t going well.

There was more than one example of that in Tuesday night’s 5-3 loss to the Oakland A’s, which dropped the Tigers to 28-25.

The Tigers actually had a 3-0 lead after the fourth inning when Miguel Cabrera scored on a wild pitch and Nick Castellanos drove in two runs with a well-placed single.

Alfredo Simon probably deserves a bit of a pass for his command issues, considering he had not pitched since May 22 after having to return home for the death of his father.

Simon, who walked five and struck out six, ran into trouble in the top of the seventh and had a couple of chances to get out of it, but couldn’t.

With Brett Lawrie at second, Marcus Semien hit a ball deep in the hole at short that Jose Iglesias somehow reached and managed to flip to third base. Nick Castellanos couldn’t pick it out of the dirt so there were runners at the corners with one out.

"You’ve gotta worry about this guy coming in, and you’ve either gotta pick it, or wait for it to come to you," Castellanos said. "You don’t really know exactly, so I just decided to try to get it and go."

Eric Sogard then hit a ground ball to second base that Ian Kinsler fielded but threw home instead of to first, so the bases ended up loaded.

"It was just a reaction play, a complete reaction play," Kinsler said. "I had to pick up a tough hop and turn towards the outfield. My first look was at second base to see if I could get an out there and I couldn’t, and I was continuing to move to throw the ball to first, I saw him take three hard steps and I just reacted to the play."

Naturally Billy Burns hit an RBI single to cut the lead to 3-1.

With Simon’s pitch count at 110, Tigers manager Brad Ausmus took him out in favor of Angel Nesbitt.

Ben Zobrist took an 0-1 change-up and hit a grand slam.

The Tigers never got a hit after that.

"When you are struggling, things like that happen, where on the night you hit, the other team hits more," Ausmus said. "On the night you don’t hit, the other team scrapes out one. You need to get one out to get out of an inning, you can’t get that out. That’s just what happens when you’re struggling."

Baseball players are taught to have short memories, win or lose, but it’s tough to do when things start to snowball.

"I think we have enough of a team to compete," Cabrera said. "We have to forget about what we are going through and continue to play baseball. You see it on the field. We try to manufacture things instead of just playing baseball. We try to do too much and you see the mistakes we made."

Joakim Soria, who pitched a perfect ninth just to get some work in, agreed with Cabrera that everyone is trying too hard.

"You try to do perfect things and you end up doing too much," Soria said. "That’s when enjoying the game becomes a problem. That can happen. You just gotta go out there and enjoy the game and be glad that we’re alive and we have the opportunity to play baseball."

Rookies like Nesbitt and catcher James McCann are looking at the veterans to lead the way during this trying time.

McCann said Kinsler told him after the difficult loss Sunday in Anaheim that in a long season, if you dwell on the tough losses, the struggles will only get worse.

"This team’s not going to keep playing like that," McCann said. "Eventually we’re going to turn it around and get hot. But I’m just trying to learn and see how guys react for the future and be able to one day hopefully help other young players when something may not be going their way."

There is one way for the Tigers to start playing free and easy again.

"Some wins," Kinsler said. "That’s really it. We’ll be all right."