Detroit — Two days before it was a much different mood in the Tigers’ clubhouse.
Winning will do that.
They’d won impressively against a good Tampa Bay team, exploded offensively by scoring nine runs, and had high hopes of continuing the positive vibes.
Again, winning will do that.
But Thursday, after losing 6-1 to the Rays and losing meekly for a second consecutive game, it was a different atmosphere, a stark contrast.
The questions were about the losing, and the likely long season ahead, and continuing to play hard, and keeping things in perspective.
Losing will do that.
“Everybody comes in with a plan to get better every day,” said pitcher Daniel Norris, who took the loss. “Baseball kind of goes that way. Sometimes you go through runs. We had a tough stretch and we broke out of it. We have been playing a lot better than we had been during that (losing) stretch.
“We’ll go on a win streak soon.”
That’s the hope, but they’re going to need more nights like Tuesday — if not scoring nine, at least close to it.
That’s four losses in the last five games for the Tigers (23-36), after a refreshing three-game win streak.
The Tigers were shut out Wednesday by red-hot Rays starter Charlie Morton, then were controlled by a deep Rays bullpen Thursday, only getting eight hits on the one run and rarely threatening.
“It’s just day-by-day,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We talked about it after the game last night, trying to win a series, and we were in the ballgame all the way up to the end. At 3-1, we had a plenty of chances, we had men on a couple of times, we had chances to do some things.
“We hit the ball hard. You just kind of live with it and move forward. They got us in the end, hit some big home runs, and we’re trying to hang on. They have a tough bullpen.”
It’s obvious the Tigers are playing hard, not letting up, but inexperience and lack of overall talent against most American League contenders is showing up on an almost daily basis.
The Rays (37-23) have somehow cobbled together another impressive team despite limited finances and playing in the tough American League East Division, and showed it, particularly in the final two games.
“We battled but can’t lie, we’re up against a good team,” Nick Castellanos said. “We saw two phenomenal starting pitchers, saw a great bullpen, and they have some guys in their lineup who are putting together pretty good seasons.
“That being said, we battled.”
Tampa peppered Norris (2-5) with 11 hits over 5 2/3 innings, but did its damage in two spots against Norris — then later against the bullpen.
In the first, leadoff hitter Yandy Diaz opened the game with a single and moved to second on a ground out. Diaz then came home on an RBI single by Austin Meadows.
The Tigers tied the score in their half of the first, Castellanos doubling with two outs and coming home on Brandon Dixon’s single.
But Tampa regained the lead in the fourth against Norris, when Kevin Kiermaier opened the inning with a single and Travis d’Arnaud followed with a two-run home run off Norris.
Tampa added insurance runs in the eighth inning off relief pitcher Daniel Stumpf.
Rays shortstop Willy Adames — the Tigers sent Adames to Tampa in the David Price trade years ago — led off with his sixth home run. Then, after Christian Arroyo walked, with one out, d’Arnaud hit his second two-run home run of the afternoon.
“We had a couple of chances but they mixed it up pretty good,” Gardenhire said. “They pitched well and we didn’t do too much. We had a couple of chances, hit a few balls hard but right at people.”