DETROIT--The struggles surrounding the Tigers pitching this past week continued on Sunday. Since the Tigers arrived in Cleveland to face the Indians, Anibal Sanchez has been the only Tigers starting pitcher to have a win since last Sunday. Of the six losses suffered by the Tigers, three ended in double digits for the opposing team.
The four-game series against the Texas Rangers didn't fare any better and despite getting 11 hits on Sunday, the Tigers could not pick up Justin Verlander who suffered his second consecutive loss. Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said the team is understandably relieved to be done with the series, and the week for that matter.
"You wouldn't expect, based on our starters that this would be the case, but every team goes through it and it was a rough patch," Ausmus said. "We're not happy about it, but it's over and we're going to move on."
Verlander said he has been making adjustments to his pitching, but considering how Sunday's game went his adjustments still need some adjusting. The usual smooth delivery of Verlander was anything but that and resulted in a messy start where he managed to strike out only one batter. But Verlander said his adjustments are nothing more than him "tinkering" to improve his pitching and things would get better.
"Early on, I was trying to bring my hands above my head, hoping that it would get to keep me back on the rubber longer, but it didn't feel comfortable in the first couple innings, so I ditched it," Verlander said. "I might work on it in the bullpen again, but it just wasn't right today." (h/t Dave Hogg, FOX Sports Detroit)
Verlander had difficulty finding the strike zone Sunday, and when he did the Rangers made contact with consistency. After 5 1/3 innings his day was done having allowed a career high of nine runs on 11 hits, six of which were earned. Verlander also gave up a home run in the second to Michael Choice on the first pitch, and his only 1-2-3 inning of the day occurred during the fourth inning.
"I just need to execute my pitches. Right now, I'm not in a place where I can repeat my delivery every time, and that's what I need to fix," Verlander said. "But I'll get it straightened out. I'm not worried about that. It's a rough patch, but this is a great baseball team. That hasn't changed."
Andrew Romine has now put the bat to the ball for three consecutive days. He reached on an error and homered on May 23 and hit two solid singles on Saturday, the first of which resulted in a run scored when Rajai Davis doubled to bring Romine home.
"I was hoping that the homer would get him going, and it has only been one day, but he definitely looked more comfortable at the plate yesterday," Ausmus said Sunday morning prior to the series finale.
"Not just the two hits, but the fact that he was hitting the ball hard. Even after that, though, he was working with Wally Joyner after the game for a few minutes to fix something that didn't feel right. That shows me how serious he is about this."
Sunday afternoon Romine used the adjustment to hit a sharp single to the gap in left center field which scored Austin Jackson in the second inning and added another single in the sixth. Romine made a defensive miscue for the second straight day however, and was charged with a fielding error in the fourth inning.
Nick Castellanos, who hadn't walked since April 21 drew walks twice on Sunday and hit a single in the eighth inning. But Ausmus said there wasn't a reason behind the walks or why Castellanos hadn't walked in so long. "It was funny because he asked me the other day if he had a better chance of hitting four home runs or four walks that day, so it was a toss up, really," Ausmus said. "He's still giving good at-bats. He's learning so there's going to be a curve to that. I don't know if I can put a finger on one specific reason he walked a few times the last couple games."
Alex Avila was the only Tigers starting position player to get a hit but he did manage to draw two walks. But of the eight players who got hits, three reached base more than once. Rajai Davis went 2-5 and scored a run, Victor Martinez was 2-3 with an RBI on a force out and Romine went 2-4 with an RBI single. Torii Hunter singled and Austin Jackson grounded to a force for the remaining runs of the game.
Ian Kinsler improved his hitting streak to 11 games with a single in the seventh inning and is batting .400 with 10 runs, eight doubles and three RBI during that time. Since his home run on May 23 which snapped an 0-22 slump, Romine is batting with a .500 avg. Miguel Cabrera and Joba Chamberlain both exited late in the game for a cramp and a bruise respectively. Both players said after the game that they're good to go for the upcoming series.
The Tigers go on the road for seven games after having lost six of their last seven contests. Drew Smyly will take the mound for the Tigers on Memorial Day as they face the Oakland Athletics for game one of a four-game series. Following the Oakland series the Tigers will travel to Seattle for a three-game series against the Seattle Mariners before returning home to face the Toronto Blue Jays and the Boston Red Sox.