Detroit — Sometimes it gets basic, folks.
This is one of those times.
The Tigers haven’t scored a run against the Oakland Athletics since the first inning of the first game of the Division Series.
That simply won’t do.
It’s the reason the Tigers are merely even with the A’s at one win each. It’s also the reason that after winning the opener, they can’t clinch the series today in Game 3 at Comerica Park.
After scoring three quick runs off Bartolo Colon on Friday night, and making it look like you’d need two hands to count the number of runs with which they’d end up, the offense wheezed, sputtered, and has come to a dead stop.
Four singles in Game 2, three of them of the infield variety? As we said, sometimes the need is basic.
And when it is, there’s not much a manager can say about it, other than to keep as uncomplicated as it is.
“Look, we need to score some runs,” manager Jim Leyland said more times this season than he ever thought he would.
Now he’s forced to say it once again — as he did Sunday at Comerica Park while explaining why he’ll be using Jhonny Peralta in left field.
For the potential of his pop, nothing else.
But didn’t the Tigers. . . ?
Yes, they were second in the majors to Boston in runs scored — and second in total bases as well, and OPS.
But the production was sporadic, often explosive, but mysteriously inconsistent.
The Tigers have feasted upon, to use a phrase that isn’t one, many a feast-upon-able pitcher. But that’s not the case now.
“What you’ve seen is postseason pitching at its best,” Leyland said.
Once he got past the first inning in Game 1, Colon blanked the Tigers. If it hadn’t been for Victor Martinez turning a two-run first into a three by stirring the embers with a two-out double, the Tigers and A’s might be in the 48th inning of Game 1 as we speak — with score still tied at two.
But, seriously, where are the runs? Have they vanished because hitters are pressing?
“I’ve seen no sign of that,” Leyland said.
The Tigers can only hope that like car keys which are only misplaced, not lost, they’ll soon be located. Runs don’t sink down between the cushions of the couch, like keys, but they’ve sure disappeared somewhere.
Keep in mind that this isn’t a drought that began Friday night. It began — or perhaps merely came back — with a 1-0 Wednesday night victory that served as the Central Division clincher.
With Max Scherzer wearing blue-and-brown goggles that night to match the colors of his eyes, and with Torii Hunter carrying a grunting Leyland out of his office to the clubhouse to get drenched — and to moonwalk — the knock on the door wasn’t heard that night.
“Only me, the drought you’re headed for.”
Is it happening because Miguel Cabrera isn’t driving the ball to right the way he’s capable? Partly.
Is it happening because the Tigers have run into some talented pitchers? Partly.
Despite facing a makeshift lineup, Miami’s Henderson Alvarez did no-hit the Tigers just eight days ago, after all.
But this is borderline alarming. The Tigers have scored just seven runs in their last six games.
So where’s the offense going to come from? Where else? From those who’ve supplied it all season, give or take 50 games in Peralta’s case.
Or let’s put it this way: If it doesn’t come from those who’ve provided the bulk of it all year, it’s possible that not enough of it will come from anywhere.
Meaning the Tigers are going to lose this series?
No, meaning they need to score more runs than they have. It might not take many, but it’s certainly going to take some.
The offense doesn’t have to surge back, it can trickle if the pitching continues to be stellar — which is a way of saying another 3-2 game might be sufficient.
What the offense can’t do, obviously, is what it’s already done. Grind to a halt.
If it does, the A’s could take Game 3 — and smell blood in the water after that.