DETROIT — The doors to the Tigers clubhouse were closed for about half an hour after Wednesday’s 13-0 loss to the White Sox. As fun as it may have been for baseball fans to watch three-position players pitch the last three innings, it was anything but fun in the clubhouse afterward.
“It’s obviously frustrating to play the way we played,” receiver Eric Haase said of the players-only meeting. “Nobody likes it. It’s very old and we want to change that. Getting in the weeds with the negative stuff is not going to be a good way forward, so hopefully we’ve got it.” aired and that we are ready to go.
Shortstop Javier Báez added: “We have communicated and we are on the same level. Everything must click together. Hitting and throwing, it has to match. We should take a lead and keep that lead. And just play together, have the same plan. We’ve had so many injuries, but there are no excuses.
When asked which players had spoken, Báez replied: “Everyone.”
In a way, Wednesday’s loss was symbolic of the season. The Tigers relied on young arms to lead the team through their throwing injuries and offensive struggles for nearly two months. So it was probably fitting that on a day when the young pitchers faltered, the position players should step in and take over.
Alex Faedo, currently the oldest member of the Tigers rotation at just 26, was the third Major League pitcher since 1893 to pitch at least five innings and give up two or fewer runs in each of his first seven appearances. . On Wednesday, he had the kind of miss that rookies occasionally suffer, throwing 80 pitches over three innings and allowing seven runs on nine hits.
After a bullpen game on Tuesday, the timing couldn’t have been more difficult. Alex Lange, a young reliever who had seen more high-leverage work lately, pitched the fifth inning in a seven-run game and gave up two runs.
The way the Tigers struggled offensively, they never threatened to catch up.
“Our pitcher was kind of the only thing that kept us afloat,” Haase said, “but we taxed these guys a lot, not being able to hit the baseball. They kind of took on the weight of it and kept us afloat. We just need to play better.
When the game ended, the Tigers were just trying to save relievers for Thursday, when rookie Beau Brieske makes his 10th Major League start. So came the position players for the last three rounds – first Harold Castro, then Kody Clemens and finally Tucker Barnhart. Castro and Clemens were already there; they returned to their previous positions after they finished throwing. The Tigers have allowed two runs in total during that streak, after four straight two-run innings.
Wednesday’s loss ended a three-game streak in which the Tigers were outscored by a 27-6 margin. They went 1-5 on their 10-game homestand, having been outscored, 44-10. They will open a four-game series against Rangers on Thursday.
“The results are pretty obvious,” Tigers manager AJ Hinch said. “I mean, if you’re not frustrated with today, even embarrassed that the game got out of control to the point where we had to do what we had to do – this is baseball at its highest level and we we expect better. I mean, we try. Guys don’t give in. I know they kind of crossed our lineup, another shutout. Gotta encourage them to have a night off and then join a new team.
Hinch cautioned against the idea of changing personnel or players for change’s sake, arguing that winning a news cycle doesn’t necessarily mean a better chance of winning a match. He also said they tried different ideas behind the scenes. But he also said that everyone is responsible.
“I understand, obviously we are responsible for the performance. This is unacceptable,” Hinch said. “We are better than that. We did not live up to our expectations. What’s the solution, it’s something we talk about all the time. As long as the message is consistent with what we think is right, that’s where we are right now.
“We are all responsible – the players, the coaches, the manager, the front office, everyone – because this is below par.”
The solution must be just as thorough.
“Just click, throw and hit,” Báez said. “We can’t have 11 hits and a run, and the other team has six hits and four runs and they have two errors, and we’re not using that to our advantage. Everything has to click. I start hitting the ball, but then I start to run very badly on the bases. Things like that have to improve at the same time and improve every day.