Free falling: Tigers' losing streak reaches eight games
San Diego — The abject frustration continues for the Tigers.
“We had it set up the way we wanted and we just didn’t get it done,” said an angered manager Brad Ausmus after the Tigers lost for the eighth straight time, 7-3 to the Padres on Saturday at Petco Park. “From me to the coaches to the players, we just haven’t gotten it done; simple as that.
“We’ve got to be better. The results we’ve gotten the last 10 days we should be embarrassed by. Not embarrassed by the effort, because they are trying and they care. But the results, we should be embarrassed by.”
The eight-game skid is the longest since 2015.
“Nobody is going to feel sorry for us,” catcher Alex Avila said. “That’s just the way it is. We have to come back and battle and keep going. As bad as it is now, we have to understand as players, it can turn just as quickly to being successful.
“It starts by just getting one.”
It looked like the skid was going to end Saturday. A double by Justin Upton and a clutch RBI single by Andrew Romine after a nine-pitch battle put the Tigers up 3-2 in the seventh.
“We had it set up with our best guys coming in,” Avila said.
But Shane Greene walked pinch-hitter Erick Aybar to lead off the eighth. Then, on an 0-1 pitch, he left a two-seam sinker up over the plate to pinch-hitter Hector Sanchez, who bashed it 403-feet over the wall in right field.
“He jumped all over it and hit it out of the park,” Greene said.
It was Greene’s second blown save this week. After allowing one home run in his first 33 innings, Greene has been tagged for two in his last three.
“It’s baseball,” he said. “It’s a hard game and it can get real frustrating. We do our best to stay positive and keep grinding.”
The Padres weren’t done in the eighth. Greene gave up a single and a walk before departing. Alex Wilson walked Hunter Renfroe to load the bases. Cory Spangenberg followed with a two-run single and Austin Hedges executed a successful suicide squeeze bunt.
When the dust settled, five runs had crossed the plate.
“It makes a lot of sense,” said Romine, when asked about the losing streak. “Teams are playing better than we are. We don’t deserve to win if we don’t play better than the other team. We get ourselves in all of them, but we just can’t hold on.”
As often happens to teams that are in a prolonged funk, the Tigers didn’t get many breaks in the early part of this one.
Through four innings they had hit four long fly balls that were caught on the warning track and Miguel Cabrera hit a laser, right into the glove of right fielder Renfroe with a runner at second base.
In the fifth inning, after Upton led off with a walk, Nick Castellanos nubbed one in front of the plate. Catcher Hedges dropped it, picked it up and nailed Castellanos with his throw to first.
It looked like the Tigers were going to have runners at first and third with nobody out. Instead, home plate umpire Jordan Baker ruled Castellanos out for interference and Upton was reset to first base.
“They said it was interference,” Ausmus said. “I am not really sure how he interfered since he was on the base before the ball hit him.”
Replays showed Castellanos’ first few steps to first were inside the base line. But the ball clearly hit him when he had already reached first base. The rule states that if the runner is hit within the last step before reaching the base, interference generally isn’t called.
“I want an explanation for why there’s interference when he’s already safe,” Ausmus said. “The ball hit him in the back after he was safe.”
Ausmus and Castellanos argued the point loud and long, but to no avail.
“It’s a judgment call and you can’t do anything about a judgment call,” Ausmus said.
Romine, though, rescued the inning by lacing a double off the wall in right field, scoring Upton from first. It was the Tigers first run in 14 innings.
Romine went to third on an overthrow by Renfroe and then scored on a ground ball by Jose Iglesias. The throw from shortstop Chase d’Arnaud to the plate was errant but Romine took a hard elbow to the kidney.
He was in great pain the remainder of the game and took treatment on it afterward.
“It still hurts to breathe,” Romine said.
The one silver lining was the continued reclamation of Anibal Sanchez.
In six innings of work, albeit against the weak-hitting Padres, he gave up two hits and two runs, only one was earned.
“He did a nice job,” Ausmus said. “For the second straight outing he did a good job.”
But the end result was the same.
“Obviously, this is not an ideal stretch that we’re on,” Avila said. “We’ve got to continue to fight. I’ve been through losing streaks before and you can’t let it affect your preparation for the next day.
“There’s three months of baseball left to play.”