Tigers waste Smyly’s strong start

Drew Smyly keeps giving the Detroit Tigers great chances to win games.

The offense keeps refusing to take them.

Wednesday, Smyly continued the amazing start to his career – allowing one run in six innings – but the slumping offense managed just a single run in a 2-1 loss to the Seattle Mariners. Smyly now has a 1.59 ERA in six career starts, but has only one win to show for it.

“It was a pitching duel, and it was a tough loss,” Smyly said. “All I can do is throw as many innings as I can. We just didn’t get anything going against (Jason) Vargas.”

Smyly said he’s not worried about his lack of victories, but doesn’t expect it to continue.

“The wins are out of my control,” he said. “All I can do is try to put us in position to get one. I did that today, but so did Vargas. If you look around this clubhouse, this is still the same team. We’re going to start scoring.”

The Mariners had taken a 1-0 lead on Kyle Seager’s RBI double in the fourth, but Austin Jackson tied it with a sixth-inning sacrifice fly. The Tigers could have gotten more off Vargas in the sixth, but Miguel Cabrera hit into an inning-ending double play with two men on.

“They’ve got a young, aggressive team, and Drew took advantage of that, but Vargas really had his change-up going,” said Gerald Laird, who caught Smyly and scored Detroit’s only run. “We’ve just got to score some runs.”

Smyly was done after throwing 93 pitches, and rookie Luke Putkonen threw a scoreless seventh inning in his first performance since his major league debut April 29. Putkonen, though, wasn’t as successful in the eighth, giving up a leadoff double to pinch-hitter Michael Saunders.

Chone Figgins bunted Saunders to third, bringing Duane Below in from the bullpen to face John Jaso. Below allowed Jaso’s walk-off sacrifice fly Monday, and couldn’t get him this time, either. This time, Jaso lined an RBI single.

Jackson drew a leadoff walk against closer Brandon League in the ninth, but Brennan Boesch hit a liner right at shortstop Brendan Ryan. Ryan knocked the ball down and turned a 6-4-3 double play, Seattle’s third of the game. Cabrera, who didn’t have a hit in the three-game series, then hit a routine fly ball to end the game.

The Tigers have scored four or more runs only twice in their past seven games.

“It’s pretty much a broken record right now – we’re just not scoring runs,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said after the game. “Smyly did a great job, but we couldn’t get any runs on the board. We didn’t even threaten much tonight.”

So the Tigers finish the season series with just one win in six tries against Seattle, hardly an American League powerhouse. Next up is a short trip down the coast for four games against the Oakland A’s and their new third baseman, Brandon Inge.