Detroit has 14 losses in August. Some ugly. Here’s an interesting breakdown. Read through and you really start to get the feel of the problem: batting stinks. Except when batting is good, the pitching has a rare off game. It’s an awful funk. But if the batters could score some runs, things would look a lot different.
Aug. 3: Nate Robertson has a quality start against Tampa Bay, bats fall cold, Tigers fall, 2-1.
Aug. 8: The cold spell begins against Minnesota. (Arguably it began in late July but Detroit still found ways to win). Robertson has quality start against Twins, bats fall cold, 4-2 loss.
Aug. 9: Jeremy Bonderman has quality start, but Tigers allow four runs in the seventh inning or later and fall, 4-3.
Aug. 11: Bats horrible, Tigers nearly no-hit by Chicago’s Jose Contreres, fall 5-0.
Aug. 12: Detroit takes 3-0 lead. Kenny Rogers pitches stellar, but a couple of errors allows Chicago to score all 4 runs unearned. Sox, 4-3.
Aug. 13: Sox and Tigers both rap 11 hits, Sox win 7-3 when Detroit strands seven. That makes five losses in a row.
Aug. 16: Detroit hopes to sweep Red Sox. In the sixth with two outs, a single, walk and double gives Boston the 5-4 lead. They add one more.
Aug. 18: Zach Miner earns his quality start by allowing two runs to the Rangers. Kevin Millwood allows one run to the Tigers. Texas, 2-1.
Aug. 19: Nate Robertson follows suit, but gives up three runs in eight innings… on two hits! Tigers use their five hits to pass 0 runs. 3-0 defeat.
Aug. 20: Detroit takes a 6-0 lead in the second inning with ace Bonderman on the mound. Bonderman gives it all back and doesn’t make it out of the fifth. Tigers never score again, lose 7-6.
Aug. 23: Fresh off two victories and an 11-1 edge over the White Sox, Miner allows 6 runs in less than two innings. Tigers fight from behind but can come no closer than 6-5. Sox add one more, win 7-5.
Aug. 24: Finally the bats and pitching come together at the same time. Unfortunately, both are terrible. Tigers have worst outing of the season, allow 14 hits. Robertson touched for nine runs. Tigers get five hits. Chicago, 10-0.
Aug. 25: Tigers score two in the second, get on base once the rest of the night against a rookie starter for Cleveland. Bonderman has one bad inning, loses 4-2.
Aug. 26: Verlander is given a 5-2 lead. He has two outs in the fifth inning and two men on. Cleveland scores six runs on five straight hits and wins, 8-5.
Why they keep losing:
In August, the batters have been mostly bad. The pitching is mostly consistent, but just seems to have off days at the worst times. Detroit has scored 100 runs for 10th in the American League. They’re tied with Oakland in 10th for home runs with 23. They’re 12th in on-base percentage. They’ve taken 55 walks, for 13th in the AL. They’ve struck out 149 times. Detroit is actually in the upper half for fewest August strikeouts. But that ratio! That’s got to improve. All the teams that have scored about the same number of runs have about that K:BB ratio.
Jim Leyland has trotted out weird lineups, including Neifi Perez batting anywhere before 8th. But leadoff batter Curtis Granderson is batting .132 in August. His on-base is a putrid .185. Cleanup batter Magglio Ordonez has driven in eight runners and has an OBP of .316. Number 3 batter Pudge Rodriguez is hardly better and has driven in fewer runs. Leyland is probably wondering who exactly is supposed to bat first. One clue: not Neifi.
The only bright point in the lineup right now is Craig Monroe, who’s got on OPS of nearly 1.000 and one-third of the Tigers’ home runs. Dmitri Young has similar numbers. Sean Casey has a lot of RBIs, some timely, but gets on base less than 3 in 10 tries. So that one is a mixed bag. Somehow this contact hitter found his inner Tiger and strikes out as much as the rest of them.
These are not things that reflect good batting. And yet Detroit got away with it for most of the year. Whether or not they can get back to their earlier season form, who knows. I have to believe they’ll fall in between. Streaks feel like they’ll last forever, whether hitting, scoring or losing. But they can’t possibly be this bad.
Interestingly, Tigers opponents mirror Tigers’ stats almost exactly. So I guess I would expect about a 50/50 month, which is nearly impossible with a 12-14 record heading to New York.
It’s also worth noting the Tigers are playing their toughest stretch of the season, even tougher than the stretch in early June. And it’s worth noting they havent’ had a day off since Aug.
6 10.Â I expected to go a game or two over .500 during August. They’re not going to do that and they’re batting worse than I could have expected. While that may not spell good news for the (possible) postseason, I still think September will be better.
The only shame is Chris Shelton got sent down to Toledo. He’d have fit in perfectly with this bunch.