Doubleheader sweep keeps Tigers out of first
DETROIT — The Tigers have time left, but it's dwindling.
And it's probably long past time to simply say the Tigers are the team they've shown themselves to be through 152 games — inconsistent offensively, below average defensively and pretty good pitching-wise.
The Tigers (80-72) dropped two of three at home to the Twins, who are now 64-89 after the two victories.
Against P.J. Walters, who came in with a 2-4 record and 6.39 ERA, the Tigers managed one run on five hits over six innings and lost the night cap, 2-1.
Despite dropping the opener of the day-night doubleheader, 10-4, a victory Sunday night could have placed the Tigers into a tie for first in the Central Division because the Chicago White Sox were swept in Anaheim.
"It stinks, man," said Quintin Berry, who had one of the hits against Walters. "It sucks that we have opportunities to get ahead in this finally and try to get a lead but things happen. It's baseball. Hopefully (the White Sox) keep doing what they're doing and we can get rolling here."
It's almost unnecessary to say that it was MVP candidate Miguel Cabrera who drove in the lone run off Walters in the first inning, driving in Austin Jackson, who had singled leading off.
"He was pretty good," Jackson said of Walters. "He was tough to pick up, first of all, where he was releasing the ball at. He was just tough on all of us for a little bit. But early on when we were somewhat hitting him and we scored, we really didn't do anything after that."
Except for a single from Avisail Garcia in the seventh when he replaced Brennan Boesch against lefty reliever Brian Duensing, the Tigers' 5 through 9 batters were hitless.
The Twins came into Sunday with the worst ERA in the American League at 4.84.
Rookie Drew Smyly, Al Alburquerque, Joaquin Benoit combined to allow just one run in nine innings.
Some people will blame Jose Valverde for giving up the game-winning run in the 10th, but really, scoring one run against the Twins in 10 innings won't get it done.
That won't get it done against any team.
"We won the first game of the series, but the next two games, we just didn't score any runs," manager Jim Leyland said. "We obviously needed to score some runs, and we just didn't do it.
"They shut us down, and to be honest with you, I didn't think they would."
It's also time to stop relying on the White Sox to keep losing. True, the White Sox are in the midst of a five game losing streak, but they are heading to their friendly home confines for their next seven of ten games.
"We’ve gotta win games," Leyland said. "They’re not going to lose forever, and we’ve got to win some games.
"We did get ourselves within a half game, and now we’re a game out. It is what it is, but you gotta win baseball games."
The Tigers are 58-13 when scoring five or more run. After Sunday, they're 22-59 when scoring four or fewer runs.
Perhaps the pressure of the playoff race is getting to the Tigers.
"Yeah, but we've been feeling the pressure all year," Berry said. "Everybody's been wondering why we haven't been in first. We get close, then we drop one, then we drop two.
"We got a lot of games left, definitely a lot of games left to pick up one back. Like I said, they got a harder schedule coming there to the end so we just gotta take care of business."
Said Smyly: "It’s the way we’ve been playing all year. We’ve just got to go on a little run. We’ve got 10 games, four games left at home, so just get on a run, just complete game: hit, pitch, field, do the things you’re supposed to do to win, and I think we’ll be fine."
In theory, that sounds do-able, but the way this season has gone, at this point you could hardly call it probable.