Minneapolis — It's not apathy. The Tigers haven't checked out on the season. They show up to the ballpark every day, put in their work and prepare to win a game just as they would if they were still in the playoff race.
But even the most proud and conscientious team would struggle to maintain its competitive fire playing from deep and early deficits night after night.
The Twins, who remain a game out of the second wild-card spot, scored six runs in the first two innings off lefty Kyle Lobstein and beat the Tigers 7-1.
"It's like taking a punch in the gut early," manager Brad Ausmus said. "You hope something sparks you along the way…It just knocks you on your heels when you get down that far that early."
It was the ninth time in 13 games the Tigers have taken that punch in the gut this month — they've had to dig out of the following holes – 2-0, 6-2, 5-0, 5-1, 3-0, 4-0, 6-3, 9-0.
No way to do business.
"I thought we had some good at-bats and we had some opportunities," Ausmus said. "We just couldn't capitalize."
Lobstein's pitches weren't especially sharp and his location was worse. He gave up the six runs on seven hits and only got four outs. The Tigers were being administered a standing eight count before their first time through the batting order.
"I feel healthy and the results aren't there, so it's really frustrating," said Lobstein, who has now lost six straight starts and allowed 17 runs in the last three. "I'm just going back to the drawing board right now and try to figure it out."
Asked if he felt his issues were mechanical or mental, he said both.
"It's probably a lot of things," Lobstein said. "Obviously, mechanics are a big part of success in throwing the ball. But at the same time, I have to be able to go out there with the confidence that I am going to do well.
"I just have to try and figure it out."
Hardly a new occurrence and Lobstein isn't the only culprit. When the cause of death is written for the 2015 season, faulty starting pitching and a leaky bullpen will headline the autopsy report.
This was the 13th time this season a Tigers starting pitcher has lasted three innings or less — that's second in the American League.
The rotation came into the game ranked last in the American League in ERA (4.80), runs allowed (480) and home runs allowed (112). They have the third fewest quality starts, have allowed the third most hits (870) and had the 10th fewest strikeouts (628).
Other than Justin Verlander, who is 3-8 despite an ERA under 2.0 since Aug. 3 -- there hasn't been one consistent starter in the rotation since David Price was traded away. Case in point: Alfredo Simon (4.94 ERA), Anibal Sanchez (4.99), Daniel Norris (5.06), Lobstein (5.31 before Monday), Randy Wolf (6.48) and Matt Boyd (6.75).
Of that group, only Verlander and Sanchez, who now appears lost for the season with a recurrence of his rotator cuff injury, are locks to be in the rotation in 2016.
The only positive on the night, at least from a pitching perspective, was lefty reliever Kyle Ryan. He settled things down somewhat, allowing just a long solo homer to Eduardo Escobar in 4.2 innings.
"He did a nice job eating up some innings," Ausmus said. "He pitched well."
The Tigers left the bases loaded in the first inning — a rally-killing double play by Victor Martinez — and didn't raise much of a fuss after that against rookie right-hander Tyler Duffey.
Anthony Gose and Ian Kinsler stranded runners on second and third in the fifth. Steven Moya, who struck out four times (three times on curveballs), left runners on second and third in the sixth.
The Tigers finally pushed a run across in the seventh. James McCann led off with his fifth triple of the season and scored on a ground out by Andrew Romine. McCann is the first Tigers catcher since Pudge Rodriguez in 2005 to notch at least five triples.
It was the Tigers' fourth straight loss to the Twins, by a combined score of 31-13.