Ausmus: Tigers lineup will be ‘fine in the long run’

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Tigers' Miguel Cabrera softly boots his batting helmet after he is called out on strikes in the sixth inning.

Detroit — Yeah, Cole Hamels was very good. Yeah, we get it.

That doesn’t change the fact the Tigers offense — all gazillion dollars of it — remains listless.

“I thought we could’ve had better at-bats,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said following a 5-1 loss to the Texas Rangers at Comerica Park. “I wouldn’t say I was overjoyed.

“We chased out of the zone.”

The Tigers managed just two hits in the game — a single by Ian Kinsler leading off the first inning and a double by Kinsler leading off the ninth inning.

In between, a sea of 0-fors.

Nobody’s playing the blame game in the clubhouse, though.

“It’s one of the reasons I signed here — we’ve got one of the best lineups in the game,” hard-luck loser Jordan Zimmermann said.

“You can’t expect to put up seven, eight runs a game when you’re running up against a guy like Cole Hamels.”

Hamels was great, tossing seven innings and striking out nine, while allowing just the one hit and two walks.

And the Tigers hit some balls hard, albeit right at defenders — especially early in the game.

But the fact remains, that’s four games in a row where the offense has disappeared.

No surprise, then, that’s four losses in a row.

“It is a good lineup,” said Ausmus, who opted to bat Mike Aviles second in place of the struggling J.D. Martinez, who got the night off.

“There’s not a ton you can do with the lineup.

“The whole lineup is going to be fine in the long run, but it’s not a lot of fun (games like this).”

Tigers drop fourth straight, fall to .500

Flashing the leather

There weren’t many Tigers highlights.

But Miguel Cabrera had one — with the glove, no less.

With runners on first and third in the ninth inning, Delino DeShields squared to squeeze bunt — and Cabrera came racing in from first to pick it off, and fired home to prevent another run.

Ausmus credited coach Omar Vizquel with reminding him of that possibility before the game.

And Cabrera handled it to near-perfection.

“Oh, absolutely,” Justin Wilson said, when asked if Cabrera is an underrated defender. “He can still go over there and play third base if he wanted to.”

Wilson still allowed two runs to score — his first two earned runs of the year — when the next batter, Rougned Odor, laced a two-out double. All of the Rangers’ runs were scored with two outs.

McCann’s slump

Among the Tigers slumping the most at the plate is catcher James McCann.

He was struggling before the ankle injury and has since the ailment, going 0-for-3 in the loss to push his average down to .086. He has no home runs and two RBIs.

This from a guy who batted .264 with seven homers and 41 RBIs in 114 games as a rookie.

“I think his timing’s a little off,” Ausmus said.

McCann has spent a lot of time lately working on adjustments with hitting coach Wally Joyner.

The Tigers signed backup Jarrod Saltalamacchia to maybe catch once a week this season, though more McCann struggles and that plan might start to change a bit.

Henning: Ausmus leans on vets while youngsters pay dues

Around the horn

Lefty Daniel Norris’ struggles at Triple-A Toledo continue. He allowed seven earned runs on eight hits and four walks over 2.1 innings Friday night, after allowing four earned runs on five hits in three innings his previous start. One positive: He’s struck out 19 over his last 15.1 innings.

... Dean Green (.309, 22 RBIs for Double-A Erie) and A.J. Ladwig (4-0, 0.78 ERA for Single-A Lakeland) were named Tigers minor league player and pitcher of the month, respectively.

... Final word from Zimmermann: “I can’t be disappointed. It’s baseball. It’s gonna happen.”

Twitter: @tonypaul1984