'We're tired': Tame Tigers' offensive woes continue in loss to White Sox
Detroit — Ron Gardenhire said it multiple times, albeit in slightly different forms.
"We're not making excuses."
"There's no excuses about anything."
"We're never gonna make excuses."
Then, Gardenhire absolutely used an excuse — citing the Tigers' grueling schedule, essentially four games in less than 48 hours, following a long road trip. They haven't had a day off since July 22, and won't get one until Monday.
The Tigers lost to the White Sox, 8-1, on Wednesday, and looked practically lifeless doing so.
"We're tired," Gardenhire said. "Not overall tired, just this little setup right here has us worn out."
Oddly, the White Sox sure didn't seem all that warn out, racking up 15 hits in the series finale to take three out of four, and send Detroit to a 33-78 record as the pursuit of Major League Baseball infamy continues.
Veteran right-hander Ivan Nova (7-9) pitched eight scoreless innings, allowing almost no hard contact.
It's tough to image, actually, given the rotten state of both parties these days. But in 2011, the Tigers and Nova actually met in the postseason. Back then, the Tigers were one of the best teams in all of baseball, and Nova was seemingly a future star, pitching for the New York Yankees.
Yeah, things have changed just a bit — though Nova did his best to turn back the clock at Comerica Park.
Nova had entered the game having allowed 154 hits, most in the American League, though he had been pitching well lately. In his last four starts, the right-hander's ERA is 0.62. The Tigers, who've scored the fewest runs in MLB, managed five singles off Nova.
White Sox catcher James McCann, the former Tiger, had three more hits and three more RBIs against his ex-teammates in leading his team's offensive attack against Tyler Alexander (0-3). In nine games against Detroit this season, McCann has batted .359 with seven RBIs.
No. 9 hitter Ryan Cordell also hit a mammoth home run, a 450-foot solo shot to left-center, to lead the White Sox 15-hit attack.
"Fastball right down the middle," Alexander said. "That doesn't play, usually doesn't play."
Slugger Jose Abreu had three more hits, including an RBI double, for the White Sox, who amazingly had a runner on base in each of the series' 36 innings.
Alexander was better this time out, but couldn't quite finish off innings — the first three runs, in the first three innings, all came with two out — or batters, as the White Sox racked up foul ball after foul ball, pushing him past 100 pitches in the fifth.
He allowed four earned runs on nine hits, and a walk while striking out six.
"Umm, I felt like I threw the ball well today, actually, which is kind of sad," Alexander said. "A lot of long at-bats, struggled to put guys away, especially late. Ten-plus-pitch at-bats, they just waited till I threw a bad pitch, and then they hit the crap out of it."
Alexander was relieved by Eduardo Jimenez, who had three strikeouts in 2⅔ innings, if you're looking for anything resembling a silver lining (and yes, you'll have to look hard). Jimenez's efforts were rewarded with a postgame option to Toledo.
Trevor Rosenthal then came on and walked two more, giving him 11 walks in nine innings. The velocity is there, but almost nothing else is — and he was DFA'd after the game.
Rosenthal, a one-time All-Star closer who touched 100 mph Wednesday, actually was outpitched by Tigers infielder Brandon Dixon, who, with a mix of 50s and 60s stuff, worked a scoreless ninth inning, only marred by a 60-mph fastball that plunked Cordell on the left shoulder. We're gonna go out on a limb and suggest that wasn't retaliation.
"I just put down 'one' the whole time," catcher Jake Rogers said with a smirk. "It worked out pretty well."
Dixon's inning actually cut his season ERA in half, to 9.00 from 18.00. He got the loudest cheers of the day from the paltry crowd of "17,444" when he came to bat to lead off the bottom of the ninth, after his inning of work, though he struck out.
Meanwhile, Alexander's counterpart, Nova, struck out only one while walking three. He was helped out by three double plays. The White Sox made the plays on defense, and the Tigers most certainly didn't.
It was particularly a mighty rough day on defense for shortstop Jordy Mercer, who had one error, and missed a couple other balls he'd normally come up with, leading to multiple runs. He did have two of the Tigers' six hits.
"We've talked about this, the longer you stand in the field — and we were in the field an awful lot today — the more chances you have to make mistakes," Gardenhire said. "You get laid-back out there, I've been there, that's what happens when you play too much defense and not enough offense."
And so, the Tigers suffered yet another lost series at their home ballpark; they haven't won a series at Comerica Park since taking two of three against the Royals in early May.
On Wednesday, they were trying to win back-to-back games for the first time since — get this — May 28-29 in Baltimore, and back-to-back games at Comerica Park for the first time since April 4, 6 and 7 against Kansas City.
But it was another uninspiring effort by the offense, darn near shut out for the 12th time this season — a stat only saved by Travis Demeritte's RBI triple up the gap in right-center with two out in the ninth off Jimmy Cordero.