It's far too early to draw any strong conclusions about the 2014 season, but one fact is proving more true by the day: the Detroit Tigers' offense is wildly inconsistent, especially against starting pitchers with quality stuff.
Friday night into Saturday morning, the Tiger bats proved to be their undoing again in a tough 6-0 loss to the San Diego Padres. Rick Porcello didn't pitch well, but considering he settled down after the first inning and didn't give up more runs until the sixth, Detroit had their chance to get back into the game time-wise. They could only manage one hit the entire game.
Over the span of two games, the Tigers will put up 17 runs, then over the next four, disappear totally at times while only putting up 16 total. The team ranks 13th in batting average (.253), 24th in runs scored (33) and 21st in on base percentage (.304). Those aren't totals that set the world on fire.
Detroit has run into a few tough pitchers along the way such as Chris Tillman, Andrew Cashner and Dan Haren, but that's no excuse for only nine total hits and two runs against those particular starters. The Tigers have hit quality pitching before, but have either lacked the mindset or discipline to do so early this season.
It was the problem many worried about when Detroit sacrificed Prince Fielder's power and production for Ian Kinsler and Rajai Davis's speed and defense during the offseason. As troublesome as Fielder was in other phases of the game, he was still good for home runs, RBI's and run production during the year. Victor Martinez has somewhat picked up that slack early on, but the rest of the order has been far too streaky for the team to establish any consistency.
The Tigers shouldn't be concerned about a bumpy offense yet, but the loss to Cashner and the Padres did raise some eyebrows. In addition to only collecting one hit, only two Tigers (Martinez and Kinsler) saw over 15 pitches during their at-bats. By comparison, the team collected 11 strikeouts. Patience, for Detroit, remains an important virtue to remember.
Early in April, the Tigers have gotten off to worse starts with the sticks. But, as the offense remains hot and cold for stretches and an injury-riddled, inconsistent bullpen gets its feet wet, it's looking like the tale of Detroit's season will be written by the ability of the bats and the back end to round into form.
Things could be worse, but the early blemishes within Detroit's offense, especially against the best pitching, provides another reason for early season concern.
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