New York — When does Dave Dombrowski begin to wish he had traded for a solid hitter along with a couple of a premium pitchers?
Then again, who’s to say he does not wish that already?
The Tigers offense not only sputtered, but came to a stop in New York — like a Central Park carriage being pulled by a mule that won’t budge.
Or not being pulled, as the case might be.
Following Thursday’s 1-0 loss — rookie right-hander Shane Greene shutting the Tigers down even more than Chris Capuano and Brandon McCarthy did in previous games — the Tigers left Yankee Stadium on the heels of scoring six runs in four games.
Losing three of them.
The losses, by scores of 2-1, 5-1 and 1-0, reflected a feeble offense — a display of such stunning futility that not even sweep-caliber pitching by the Tigers starters could salvage so much as a split.
“Our pitching was outstanding, especially our starting pitching,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “But you feel like you’ve wasted opportunities when you get pitching like this.”
So it’s not as if the Tigers will be mistaken for a freight train as they head to Toronto. Freight trains make noise — and some of the bats aren’t making any sound at all.
“We didn’t put anything together,” Victor Martinez said.
Ausmus did not say for a second consecutive day, however, “It was as bad as we’ve been all year offensively.”
Instead he praised the Tigers’ “better approaches.”
“Yesterday, we chased a lot of balls out of the zone,” he said. “Today, we went back to swinging at balls in the zone. We just didn’t get hits.
“And the one thing I know from 18 years of playing is that you can’t win if you don’t score. I promise you that.”
This time it was Rick Porcello (13-6) who deserved better. Looking for his first victory ever at Yankee Stadium, where he attended games as a kid growing up in New Jersey, Porcello allowed one run on nine hits in seven innings.
Yet he lost, falling to 13-6 in the process — instead of climbing to 14-5, which would have tied his career high for victories.
It wasn’t the most typical of games for Porcello. There were too many outs in the air for it to be typical. But he pitched well enough to win most games.
He just didn’t pitch well enough to win this game, a fourth-inning run on Stephen Drew’s ground-rule double to left following a pair of two-out singles, serving as his undoing.
“It was a little different than my last couple of outings,” Porcello said. “I didn’t get as many ground balls as I was looking for. I was a little off kilter.
“But this whole series was a battle for us. It’s that demanding point in the season where you feel you’re out there every day.”
The Tigers’ last scoring chance was their best. They had runners at first and second in the ninth with no outs, but Miguel Cabrera — pinch-hitting for J.D. Martinez against closer David Robertson — hit into a double play.
With the tying run on third and two outs after that, Donnie Kelly popped out to Drew at short to end the game.
The Tigers ended up with five hits, all singles.
For the last two games of the series, they had 10 hits — nine singles and a double.
One thing is for sure, if you are a Tigers fan who lives in New York and went to the game with a Yankees fan/friend to root for Cabrera and Derek Jeter respectively, both of you were disappointed.
Neither started — and Jeter never got in the game.
Until his pinch-hitting appearance in the ninth, Cabrera sat because Ausmus wanted to give him “one day game off” on this three-city trip, and chose this as the game.
Jeter isn’t a robot who can play every day, either, even though his fans would like him to in his final season. But they often chanted his name all the same.
Double plays stopped the Tigers in their tracks the entire game. It ended with Cabrera’s grounder to second in the ninth, but it began with Andrew Romine’s hitting into a 6-4-3 DP following Alex Avila’s leadoff walk in the third.
Victor Martinez’s 4-6-3 DP with runners at first and third and one out in the sixth didn’t help, either.
Better on the road than at home this year, the Tigers will be concerned if this sudden malaise continues. They’ve scored fewer than two runs in six of their last seven road games — losing all six.