Tigers can't hit, punched out by Mariners

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander works in the first inning.

Detroit – It’s too early in the season to be trashing Gatorade jugs and smashing clubhouse walls.

But losing two of three at home to a Mariners team that had been scuffling, well, it’s not what the Tigers were looking for, especially after the way they were slugging earlier in the week.

“Yeah, we kind of needed to sprinkle in some of the runs from the first couple games to the next and we'd be just fine,” Justin Verlander said after the Tigers dropped the finale, 2-1, Thursday afternoon. “I wouldn't call it deflating. You want to come away with a series win, but today it didn't quite happen. Just keep playing baseball and have fun.

“It's not the end of the world by any means. I don't think we shot ourselves in the foot at all. Just a couple of games that didn't go in our favor.”

BOX SCORE: Mariners 2, Tigers 1

The loss spoiled a gritty performance by Verlander, who ignored an elevated pitch count and allowed just one unearned run in seven strong innings. The Tigers, though, managed just one unearned run themselves off Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakuma.

“We scored one run,” manager Brad Ausmus reiterated. “You're not going to win many baseball games when you score one run. Iwakuma is a smart pitcher. We got four hits  three of them by one guy.

“Other than Tyler Collins, no one was really able to solve him today."

The Mariners scratched across a run in the top of the ninth off Francisco Rodriguez to win it. Rodriguez struck out Nelson Cruz on three pitches to start the inning, but he gave up a double Kyle Seager and an RBI single to Ben Gamel.

“I think the results speak for themselves,” Rodriguez said. “I think you guys saw exactly what happened, I couldn’t get anybody out after that (strikeout of Cruz) and that cost us the game. Extremely disappointed. Quite simple, I have to pitch better.”

Rodriguez has allowed at least one run in his last three outings, and in five of the last six.

“I’m just missing my spots,” he said. “Doesn’t look like it was a bad pitch to Gamel, but the end result was a base hit, so I just have to pitch better, locate better, and start getting people out quick.”

Ausmus’ point holds, though – you don’t win too many when you score just one run. And the Tigers, after being singed by the upper-90s heat from Mariners’ left-hander James Paxton on Wednesday, were befuddled by Iwakuma’s array of off-speed pitches.

Collins, who had an adventurous day, singled and doubled twice off him. After he doubled to lead off the sixth inning, he scored when second baseman Robinson Cano couldn’t corral a hard-hit ground ball by Victor Martinez.

It was the Tigers’ first run in 15 innings, after they scored 32 combined on Sunday and Tuesday.

It was a redemptive moment for Collins, whose aggression led to an unearned run for the Mariners in the top of the sixth.

With one out, Nelson Cruz hit a routine fly ball to shallow right center. Right fielder Jim Adduci called for it and was ready to catch it when he was run over by a hard-charging Collins. The ball popped out of Adduci’s glove and Cruz got to second base when he couldn’t get the ball into the infield.

Collins was charged with the error and Cruz scored on a single by Seager.

“I should have caught it,” Adduci said. “I did catch it, but I should have held on to it. I was upset that I didn’t. It’s one of those balls you go after, you know, just part of baseball – both of us were being aggressive. That’s how the game is supposed to be played.

“I should have caught it.”

Adduci was kicked in his lower leg, just above his Achilles, and had to leave the game after the seventh.

“The wind was pushing it back toward the infield,” Ausmus said. “It was a tough play. I don't think either one of them knew who was going to catch it or was calling it, and they just collided.”

The Tigers open a three-game series at home with the White Sox on Friday.

Twitter: @cmccosky