May 25, 2014 at 7:07 pm

Rangers 12, Tigers 4

Rangers pound Justin Verlander, extend Tigers' misery

Brad Ausmus after loss to Rangers
Brad Ausmus after loss to Rangers: The Tigers' manager talks about his team's recent struggles and Justin Verlander's defeat against the Rangers.

Detroit — What a difference a week makes.

After starting the week on an emotional high after road sweeps of the Orioles and Red Sox, the Tigers have dipped into an inexplicable lull, with six losses in their last seven games.

On Sunday afternoon, the Rangers extended the downward spiral, bludgeoning the Tigers in a 12-4 loss at Comerica Park. In the four-game series, the Tigers were outscored, 35-15, with starting pitchers — Robbie Ray, Rick Porcello and Justin Verlander — taking heavy damage in their losses.

“It was obviously not a good series for us; our starters had a little bit of a rough series with the exception of (Anibal) Sanchez. You wouldn’t expect — based on our starters — that this would be the case but every team goes through it; it was a rough patch,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “We’re not happy about it, but it’s over, so we’re going to move on.”

Verlander (5-4) had one of the worst outings of his career, giving up nine runs (six earned) on 11 hits, with three walks and just one strikeout. It’s Verlander’s third straight outing with at least five earned runs and fewer than five strikeouts and the second straight that he allowed 11 hits.

But there’s no knee-jerk feeling of panic for Verlander or the Tigers, who head out for a four-game series against the American League West-leading Athletics and three at the Mariners.

“Everything’s magnified when you’re going through a rough stretch, but it’s a rough stretch. It happens in the game of baseball,” Verlander said. “We’ve got a fantastic ball club here. I wasn’t able to do the job today, but the next starting pitcher can do the job next time.

“Even great ball clubs go through rough stretches throughout the course of 162 games; it happens. It’s not the end of the world. I think everybody in this clubhouse is still confident and we’ve got enough veterans where you don’t let the highs get too high and the lows get too low.”

In the past week, there were far more valleys than peaks. The Tigers dodged a scare in the seventh inning, when Miguel Cabrera suffered a right hamstring cramp. He left the game but said he was fine; his status is day-to-day.

“I think we have to make adjustments and get better than we’re playing right now,” said Cabrera, who was 4-for-12 in the series. “We have to get back on track and get some wins.”

Reliever Joba Chamberlain had a right-ankle contusion in the eighth while covering first base; his status also is day-to-day.

The Rangers pounced on Verlander for a run in the first inning and two more in the second, including a home run by Michael Choice. The Tigers got a run in the first on a fielder’s choice RBI by Victor Martinez and cut it to 3-2 in the second on an RBI single by Andrew Romine, but didn’t get any closer, giving up 12 runs for the second straight game.

With lopsided deficits in three of the four games the bullpen also was taxed — and five relievers were used in Sunday’s game, after shortstop Danny Worth pitched two of the first three games in the series. Ausmus tried to preserve some of the bullpen, but will need some longer outings from the starter to keep the bullpen in order for the next few games.

“When you’re down that much early, it’s kind of tough. Certainly, the bullpen is tired, though today it wasn’t too bad; we were able to spread the innings around a little bit,” Ausmus said. “Most of those guys should be available tomorrow but overall the past week has been tough on the bullpen, but they’re hanging in there.”

In the fifth, the Rangers broke the game open with five runs, as Mitch Moreland and Adrian Beltre added RBI singles and Alex Rios tacked on a two-run triple for an 8-2 advantage

Moreland tacked on an RBI single in the sixth and Elvis Andrus, Moreland and Beltre had consecutive RBI singles in the seventh after Verlander had departed.

The Tigers added two runs in the seventh after Kinsler and Cabrera led off with singles. Kinsler scored on Torii Hunter's single and Don Kelly — pinch-running for Cabrera — scored on a fielder’s choice grounder by Austin Jackson.

Despite the pitching woes, Ausmus said he’s not overly concerned. The Tigers had five instances of five losses in six games last season.

“I don’t think it’s any lack of effort or a lack of caring or even lack of concentration,” he said. “If one of those three was the case, I would be concerned but I’m not.”

Justin Verlander works in the first inning Sunday. He gave up 11 hits and nine runs (six earned) in 5.1 innings, with just one strikeout. / Robin Buckson / Detroit News