Tigers defense is shoddy in loss to Rangers
Arlington, Texas — As former Lions coach Bobby Ross once famously said — "Ugly, ugly, ugly."
The Tigers defense, which has been one of the few consistent strengths this season, took the night off in a 7-6 loss to the Rangers Tuesday night.
Afterward, though, it wasn't the season-high four errors and other miscues manager Brad Ausmus wanted to speak about.
"It was not our best defensive performance," he said. "But I stick to the fact that these guys fought their tails off to the bitter end. We may not be in the playoff chase but there's been no quit."
True enough. The Tigers recovered from a hideous five-run, 54-pitch first inning and scored six runs off Rangers left-hander Cole Hamels. Then in the ninth, down a run, they had runners on first and third with one out against closer Shawn Tolleson.
"I thought at that point we were going to pull it out," Ausmus said.
Rajai Davis, of his own volition, tried to push a bunt past the mound.
"It would've been an easy run for us," Davis said. "Even if they threw me out at first, we have a runner at second in a tie game with a chance to win the game."
The Rangers, though, were anticipating a squeeze play. Tolleson was instructed to throw a high, tight fastball and Davis popped it up to first base.
"He was trying to do too much there," Ausmus said of Davis. "He saw an opportunity to get a run in and put a guy at second base. Unfortunately, it didn't work."
Asked how he reacted to Davis' decision to bunt on his own, Ausmus said, "You won't see a reaction from me. As usual, that stuff gets handled at a later time."
Ian Kinsler ended the game with a shot to the gap in right-center that was run down and caught by Drew Stubbs.
Ironic that the Tigers, on their worst fielding night of the season, were ultimately beaten by a great defensive play.
The first play of the game, a soft, sinking liner by Delino DeShields, went past Kinsler and the tone was set. The Tigers made two errors in the first inning alone that led to four unearned runs and ruined rookie Daniel Norris' night.
"Errors are part of the game," said Norris, who after a 54-pitch first inning lasted only 1.2 innings. "I always have their backs. The first guy gets on and I left that pitch up to (Shin-Soo) Choo and he hits it out. I make my pitch and maybe that's a double play.
"I am always going to have their backs and they are going to have mine."
The Tigers made five horrid defensive plays in the first four innings. After Kinsler's error, Jefry Marte, then playing first base, missed a routine pop up behind first base in the first inning.
With runners on first and second, the next batter hit a ground ball to Nick Castellanos at third. He had options. He could easily have stepped on third and thrown to first for a potential double play. He could have tagged Prince Fielder, who was running at him and just a few feet away.
Instead, he threw to first, allowing the runners to move up. Both of those runners would score.
"He should have stepped on third," Ausmus said. "We talked to him right after it happened."
Castellanos had taken a ball off the tip of his right index finger in batting practice, which ultimately forced him to leave the game. The finger played a part in his decision on that play.
"I should've been more aware that I had time to get him out at third," he said. "It was hit extremely slow with a lot of spin on it. Maybe if I tried to rush a throw with that spin, I don't know what would've happened, especially with me not being able to throw 100 percent."
With two outs and a runner at second in the fourth, right fielder J.D. Martinez ran down a slicing fly ball by Adrian Beltre. He seemed to get to the ball but failed to extend his arms far enough to haul it in.
That was scored a double and knocked in what wound up being the winning run.
"There's no excuse for it," Martinez said. "When he hit it, I took off running and it felt like I was running forever. As I was coming up on the wall, I felt I had been running so long, I felt like the wall was getting on me quick. That's when I got tentative. I had room. I messed it up. "
Still in the fourth, Marte, who moved to third base replacing Castellanos, booted softly hit ground ball in front of the bag.
Andrew Romine, playing first base, made the fourth Tigers error of the night in the eighth inning. With one out, he bobbled a tough hop allowing Choo to reach.
"This is still a difficult game," Martinez said. "I know sometimes teams make it look easy to take ground balls and catch balls that are hit hard. But those are still hard things to do and we're still human.
"So, we have to just brush it off and come back tomorrow. It's a new day."
Martinez hit his 38th home run of the season in the first, a two-run blast to right-center. He now has 101 RBIs, making him the first Tigers outfielder to knock in 100 runs since Magglio Ordonez in 2008.
"That's awesome," Martinez said. "I am humbled by it."
Bryan Holaday, Dallas-born and the product of Texas Christian University, homered in the second. Davis, Marte and Dixon Machado also knocked in runs.
The Rangers, who snapped a three-game losing streak, have now won nine straight games started by Hamels.