New York — Ian Kinsler thought the question over for several seconds and then just shook his head.
"I don't know," he said. "I don't know what it is."
It is the most confounding and befuddling aspect of the Tigers season thus far. How does a team with so many proven run-producers, a team that ranks second in the American League in batting average, on-base percentage and OPS, a team that is third in hits and fifth in total bases, have such a hard time scoring runs?
"I don't know if I can make sense of it other than we have at times hit into double plays and had some strikeouts," manager Brad Ausmus said. "Those take away from good innings."
The Tigers rank ninth in the American League in runs scored and ninth in runs batted in. They have scored two runs or fewer in 28 of 67 games, 42 percent.
"I can't give you a logical answer, but, as I've said before, if the offense is that good, over 162 games it will be that good," Ausmus said.
The Tigers believe there is a correction coming; the discrepancy between hits and runs scored will close.
"That's how teams are put together," Ausmus said. "General managers put teams together based on a 162-game season. You just keep putting them out there. We've got names like Cabrera, Martinez, Martinez, Cespedes, Kinsler — you know what their track record is. You keep putting them out there assuming water finds its level."
Getting back Victor Martinez, another left-handed bat, will help, Ausmus said, as will the eventual return of Alex Avila.
"With Alex and Victor, then we have some left-handed bats that help protect you against the type of pitchers we've had trouble with this year — pitchers that throw double-play balls, right-handers with sinkers and sliders," Ausmus said. "Those are the pitchers who have given us trouble with the absence of Martinez and Avila — and because they have given us trouble, we have had trouble scoring runs at times."
The Tigers are leaving an average of 3.63 runners in scoring position per game, 13th in the AL. They have also, recently, had scoring chances thwarted by bad baserunning — Kinsler was thrown out at home with no outs Friday, and Gose was thrown out at home against the Reds Tuesday.
Add their league-leading 68 double plays and 126 strikeouts (sixth in the league), the Tigers are finding plenty of ways to keep runners from touching home plate.
"I don't think we are playing the type of baseball we want to or that we are capable of," Kinsler said. "But I don't feel like we are snake bit or that we are necessarily struggling. We just have to keep playing. We have had stretches where we have played good baseball. We need to do it on a more consistent basis."