Welcome to Talkin' Tigers, a weekly piece recapping the most important talking point from the week before about the Detroit Tigers while taking a look ahead.
While inconsistent pitching was a part of the Detroit Tigers' undoing last week, a lack of clutch hitting seemed to be the biggest woe this time around.
Considering the fierce competition from Oakland, the Tigers still had a decent road trip. A 3-4 record isn't anything to write home about, but it also wasn't a complete disaster, either. The team has had far worse trips out west.
But still, it's hard not to think what that record could have been if not for a few days of slumbering offense. Three of Detroit's four road trip losses were a direct result of not being able to do enough on the bases, plate enough runs and make things happen.
The contest against the Athletics, Anibal Sanchez spun an absolute gem, nearly going the distance for a 1-0 win. However, things happened in the ninth inning, and Joe Nathan ended up blowing the save. Detroit couldn't pad their lead, which helped create the loss.
Saturday, Detroit struggled in Seattle after pounding three home runs in the series opener. Drew Smyly didn't pitch fantastic, but did throw well enough to keep his team in the game. Instead, Detroit only managed six hits and two runs in the midst of 10 strikeouts.
Yesterday, the Tigers were ready to check out and fly back to Detroit, refusing to make any kind of dent on the scoreboard to back up Max Scherzer, who did struggle at times but held the Mariners largely in check. Roenis Elias, who had a sub-.500 record and elevated ERA, whiffed eight Tigers
More than the pitching, the offense is Detroit's quiet concern. It comes and goes far too often, and the Tigers' lineup boasts plenty of trouble spots. Andrew Romine (.205) and Alex Avila (.206) continue to struggle, while Austin Jackson (.240) has taken a significant dip in recent weeks. As good as Nick Castellanos has been, he's still a rookie, so his modest average is expected.
That's proving to be far too many holes for the Tigers, whether or not Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and Ian Kinsler are hitting, or Rajai Davis is enjoying a breakout season from both sides of the plate, mitigating the loss of Andy Dirks. No matter how many positives, the consistent holes will always be the biggest problem.
Baseball remains the strangest game. After the pitching rights itself, the offense decides to take a nap. Like slumps, it happens during the course of a long season.
Player Of The Week: Victor Martinez. As many losses as the offense helped create, Martinez helped manufacture two wins of his own this week with clutch hitting in both Oakland and Seattle via double and home run. Though others have struggled, Martinez continues to deliver in key spots and collected eight hits and five RBI since last Monday. He's on a torrid pace to re-write some of his career bests.
Play Of The Week: Rajai Davis makes a fine catch in Oakland. Davis has played an above average left field this season, and continued that theme against the Athletics, when he sprawled out to make an excellent play on Wednesday night.
The Challenge Ahead: The resurgent faction of the A.L. East. The Tigers will return home, but will find the Toronto Blue Jays waiting for them, also known as the hottest team in baseball with a suddenly above .500 record. Also, the Tigers will get paid a visit by the Boston Red Sox over the weekend, who have been on fire since being swept by Detroit in May and losing several games after that.
Question For This Week: Can Detroit's hitting return to form? The Tigers' pitching had a disastrous run, but came back to earth in a nice way on the road. Now, after two straight off performances, Detroit's hitting needs to be the next to return. Will they against the Blue Jays and Red Sox, two staffs certainly capable of shutting down an opposing offense?
Max DeMara is the editor of @tigers_101. Follow the site there on Twitter, or like it on Facebook to connect with him.
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