Arlington, Texas — It was another night of misery at the ballpark for the free-falling Tigers.
They were swept by the Texas Rangers, losing the finale of the three-game series, 12-6, Wednesday night. It was the Tigers' 20th game in 20 days; their fourth straight loss and 10th in their last 12 games.
Walks, home run balls, sloppy defense, more bullpen pyrotechnics and an injury — just a whole lot of ugly.
“It was a rough one,” said Ian Kinsler. “It was a rough series for us. Offensively we tried to battle to get back into it; it just wasn’t happening. Every time we scored, they had an answer.
“You don’t look to take positives or negatives out of every game. It’s a baseball game. We played hard and we got our butts kicked. That’s it.”
Kinsler, who had derided umpire Angel Hernandez the day before, calling him a bad umpire and saying his incompetence changed games, shook hands with him at second base before the bottom of the first.
Hernandez initiated the handshake.
“He shook my hand,” Kinsler said, and shrugged.
“Yeah,” he said.
It was a 4-4 score in the third inning when Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez left the game with tightness in his left hamstring. He had just been tagged for a 430-foot, two-run home run by Adrian Beltre that tied the score.
Sanchez said afterward that he felt the tightness on a pickoff throw in the second inning and he couldn’t get it to loosen.
“They don’t think it’s serious,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. “We will know more on Friday.”
Sanchez, who has allowed nine home runs in his last three starts (11 1/3 innings), gave up a two-run home run to Nomar Mazara, a bullet off the foul pole in right field (408 feet) in the second inning, as well.
The Tigers bullpen would surrender eight runs over the next five innings.
“Look at our bullpen, it’s extremely young,” Ausmus said. “We have two guys with three years of service (Alex Wilson and Shane Greene), everybody else has one year or less. There’s going to be some growing pains and we’ve seen that the last couple of days.”
Elvis Andrus broke the 4-4 tie with a leadoff homer in the fifth inning off left-handed reliever Chad Bell. Andrus had three hits and four RBIs in the game.
Things went to ruin in the sixth. Right-hander Joe Jimenez, who got the final out in the fifth inning, was victimized by a couple of defensive misplays, one his own. Rougned Odor reached on an error by first baseman John Hicks.
He was caught stealing by a strong throw by catcher James McCann, but the ball came out of Kinsler’s glove at second base.
“I tried to wait for it as long as I could; I knew it was going to be a close play,” he said. “The ball was towards the end of my glove. While I was on him, when I picked it up it slipped out the end of my glove.”
Kinsler was given an error. Jimenez then hit Robinson Chirinos and gave up a bunt single to Delino DeShields.
Jimenez fielded the bunt with his momentum going toward first base. Still, he turned to look at third, and that cost him any chance to get the speedy DeShields.
That was the end of the night for Jimenez, whose fastball was hitting at 92-93 mph, well below his norm.
“He hasn’t brought up any issues to the training staff that I know of,” Ausmus said. “Or to me or to (pitching coach Rich) Dubee. I’m a little concerned as to what’s causing the drop in velocity.”
Left-hander Daniel Stumpf came on and got a ground out from Shin-Soo Choo — a diving stop by Hicks at first — but a run scored.
Drew VerHagen relieved Stumpf and gave up two singles and a walk, with three more runs scoring, before getting out of the inning.
VerHagen gave up another run, on a walk and two more hits in the seventh.
Joey Gallo hit a 420-foot blast to center off Shane Greene in the eighth, his 35th home run of the season. The run was the first allowed by Greene in 17 innings. He would be charged with a second run after Nick Castellanos misplayed Chirinos' ground ball into an RBI double.
"Regardless of how poor the pitching is at the time, your job is to make plays defensively," Ausmus said. "It's not ideal when you are standing on your feet for hours at a time. The walks and long innings don't help the defense. The two kind of go hand in hand."
In summary: Tigers pitching allowed 12 runs, 17 hits, four home runs, seven walks and a hit batsman.
“As a coaching staff and an organization, we have to be patient because if the starter comes out of the game early, we’re going to a lot of youth in the bullpen — a lot of it,” Ausmus said. “When you have inexperience like that, you have strike-throwing issues, mistakes in the field like with Stumpf on Tuesday (allowed Odor to steal home) and with Jimenez on the bunt tonight.
“The only way they can gain the experience to get past these things is to play at the major-league level. And you hope in the long run it makes them better pitchers.”
It started out promising enough.
The Tigers scored four runs off Rangers ace Cole Hamels in the first three innings. Hamels had entered the game on an 11-inning scoreless streak.
Kinsler led off the game with his 12th home run of the season and his sixth leadoff homer. He now has 46 career leadoff bombs, tied for fourth all-time with Jimmy Rollins.
Castellanos doubled to lead off the second and scored on a single by McCann. There was no RBI on the hit because the ball was bobbled in center field by DeShields.
Then in the third, Mikie Mahtook continued his torrid run, hitting his ninth home run — a two-run, 426-foot blast to center field.
Down 12-4, the Tigers scored twice in the ninth on RBI doubles by Andrew Romine and Castellanos.
“Bad,” was how Ausmus summed it up. “We didn’t pitch well the last couple of days. A lot of walks and home runs — that’s not a recipe for winning.”
This was the fourth time the Tigers have been swept in a road series this season. They hadn’t been swept in a series of three games or more in Arlington since 2002. They were outscored 28-12 in these three games.
The only relief — Thursday is an off-day, their first since July 27.