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Tigers' listless offense, defense to blame for latest loss

Brad Ausmus' pitching decisions may have created a difficult situation, but it was the lack of offense and apathetic defense that cost the Tigers a win on Sunday night.

Harry How/Getty Images

It was a good pitch by Joba Chamberlain. The Detroit Tigers have awful luck out West, particularly against the Angels. Sunday's loss can be attributed to several things, but Chamberlain isn't one of them. The offense. The defense. Those are the main culprits. David Price was gassed. He still managed to get two outs in the eighth inning. He probably should have been pulled earlier in the inning, but he battled and didn't give up. But his final line won't reflect that.

The offense is primarily to blame, and not just in this exhaustive road trip. The Tigers finished 2-5 against the Athletics and Angels on the west coast. They scored 14 runs in seven games, six of which came in one game Detroit still lost because of a poor and bizarre pitching performance Saturday night. The last time the team scored six runs or more was May 24 in a 10-8 loss to the Houston Astros at home. And, outside of a six-run win the night before that, the offense has been chirping crickets for most of May.

You're not going to win many ball games when your offense is drier than the Sahara Desert. The Tigers have now lost 13 of their last 14 games against the Angels, and they're 16-47 against them in Anaheim since 2001. Regardless of the players on the team, the Tigers just play awful baseball when they play at Angels Stadium.

Price should have been pulled before he put Chamberlain in a nearly impossible situation. Nearly, because there's always the chance that the batter strikes out, or a ball is hit right at a middle infielder at the bag. But it wasn't. Joakim Soria could have been brought out for the third out in the eighth. But, then, if Soria gets a ground ball, that doesn't make the defense any better, and you can't predict that the outcome would have changed in that situation.

It wasn't just the lack of offense on Sunday night, but the defense that forgot its task. There were other defensive miscues in the game, but the eighth inning stood out. With Chris Ianetta batting in the eighth, Andrew Romine charged a chopper to third and threw to first. While Ianetta was running quickly down the first base line, Romine had enough time for an accurate throw. Instead, he threw wide, forcing Miguel Cabrera off the bag and Ianetta was safe at first with two on and no outs.

As for the baserunning, it has not gotten any better. The latest being Kinsler, who was picked off at first, followed by Romine, who was caught trying to steal second base, both earlier in the game. It goes both ways. Price could have given the Tigers a complete game with only one run scored Sunday night. He did just that last season against his former team. And the Tigers still lost. Because the offense didn't do its job then, and it hasn't done its job during this road trip.

"When you put a lot of pressure on yourself, you overdo it," Cabrera said after the game. "You overswing. You want to make the extra play. You want to take the extra base. And that's when you make mistakes, when you try too hard. I think we have to cut down a little bit. We still have to play aggressive. ... We want to win. But if we keep thinking like we're thinking right now, I think we're going to be in trouble."

Price went 121 pitches, his highest pitch count since Sept. 1, 2013 when he was a member of the Tampa Bay Rays and went 127. Soria would likely not have been an option to get five outs. But Price entered the eighth with 99 pitches. He has thrown at least 100 pitches in all but one of his starts, and is averaging over 6 2/3 innings per outing. To see Price start the eighth isn't surprising. If anything, it was expected.

There are countless scenarios for Price staying or going at every point in that inning. Regardless of whether it was Price, Chamberlain, or Soria, the defense still has to do its job, and the offense needs to show up in support. The latter two didn't happen, and no one can do that but the players who take the field.