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Detroit Tigers Must Clean up Defense, Which Still Has Quiet Ability to Disappoint

July 30th, 2014 at 11:48 AM
By Max DeMara

How did Tuesday night's game get away from the Detroit Tigers? As Brad Ausmus would say, the loss happened in a variety of different ways.

There was bad pitching in addition to mental mistakes. Having the offense go silent despite plenty of hits early didn't help, either. Defensively, however, is where the biggest lumps were felt consistently for most of the night

Most will point to the seventh inning as a turning point. It's true, the mistake by Rajai Davis figured large in the White Sox keeping a big inning going and adding runs. Detroit's defense, though, had already been bad most of the night. It started with Eugenio Suarez's wide throw to first base, and magnified from there. Later, Suarez would botch a feed to Ian Kinsler at second base.

Despite that, Ausmus didn't want to hear about the defense being the main reason the team lost control in the seventh—or any other inning, for that matter. "It was a good game until the seventh," he said. "The seventh was ugly." When pressed directly about the defense's role in creating that ugliness, Ausmus was just as brief. "Just the whole inning, a combination of factors," he said.

Last season, Detroit's defense was a major reason the team fell apart in the playoffs. Detroit looked old and slow in the field, in addition to being mistake prone. Tuesday, there could have been more than the three errors that showed up on the score sheet. Miguel Cabrera, pressed into duty at third, had a few adventures. Davis had another mistake throwing the ball in to the cutoff man as the run scored. At first base, Victor Martinez appeared to duck the wrong direction while misplaying a ball.

These simple fundamentals, while not always ruled errors, do cost teams the dearest. This season, the Tigers haven't been as consistently mistake-prone, but their 63 errors are still good for eighth in the American League. Worse, when they make mistakes, they often help games to get out of hand and extend big innings for the opposition.

Somehow, the Tigers have to find a way to button up their play in the field consistently. Even though the defensive sloppiness isn't costing them on such a grand, consistent scale as before, it can still be a nasty pitfall late in the season as Tuesday's loss to Chicago proved.

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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