So far, the Detroit Tigers have lost two games of three against the New York Yankees in the Bronx, and despite the pitching staff struggling in a few key spots, the main reason has been driven by offense.
All the statistics say the Tigers are one of the most prolific offensive teams in baseball. They rank 2nd in team batting average (.275), fifth in runs scored (515) and have hit 111 home runs. Additionally, Detroit's shown an ability to manufacture more runs on their own than in 2013.
Those statistics, however, often have a way of masking the truth. The reality is, this season, the Tigers are arguably the most maddeningly inconsistent offensive team in baseball capable of making a pitching staff's weakest pitcher look outstanding. In the past month, they've made such names as Zach McAllister, Chase Anderson and Chris Capuano look like world beaters.
Statistically, the number of close losses driven by a lack of offense can get masked because Detroit routinely explodes for five or more runs immediately after. Take a frustrating 11-4 defeat against the Chicago White Sox a week ago. A day later, the Tigers scored six runs early en-route to a 7-2 win.
Such events keep the statistics padded, but help to cover up the depth of problems. Two out of three nights in New York, the Tigers have only scored one run, while clutch hits of all kinds have evaded the team. Since the All-Star break, the number of games where Detroit has scored three runs or less (8) outnumbers games where they have scored five runs or more (5).
The total stats will say Detroit's one of the best offensive teams in baseball, but the eye test says otherwise. Far too often, the Tigers fall apart in clutch spots with multiple runners on base. They fail to break open games when they have a chance and allow their offense an opportunity to shine. Even though baseball is an unpredictable daily grind, it seems like focus at the plate is an issue at times, with many at-bats simply given away.
Down the stretch, these problems will need to work themselves out somehow, and the Tigers will need to achieve a touch more offensive consistency. The fact that they can still go from hot to cold quick is troubling. In a long playoff series pitching wins, but having an offense that can deliver expected results helps, too. Pitchers can still lose 1-0 in the playoffs, as Justin Verlander proved last October.
Now that the Tigers have loaded themselves up with extra pitching, it's time for the offense to find a way to consistently deliver those hurlers enough runs to get the wins they so often should earn.
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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