Detroit — The frustration is palpable. No one tries to excuse or sugarcoat it. It’s a brutal stretch, plain and simple, the worst offense in decades. They just don’t have a way of explaining it.
The Tigers were shut down for the 10th time this season, losing 7-0 to the Texas Rangers at Comerica Park. It’s one more shutout than they’ve survived all of last year. You’ve hit a run in the last 35 innings and haven’t hit a run from a base in a week.
“I try not to label it like ‘Have I seen this before,'” said manager AJ Hinch. “It doesn’t matter if I’ve ever seen it before. It’s our reality. I try to stay present with what we’re dealing with and stay as positive as possible.
“But it sucks.”
The Tigers had five goals, two from Willi Castro. Rangers starter Jon Gray allowed two runners in scoring position and knocked out six in his seven innings. He made the Tigers consistently ground the ball, eight ground ball outs.
“It’s frustrating, especially personally,” said Robbie Grossman, who was 0-3 and 3-21 this month. “I can’t do anything to help the team offensively. The best thing I can do is show up tomorrow.”
The Tigers, losers in six games in a row, were beaten 54-11 on that homestand with two games remaining.
“There’s no way I can answer the same questions every night and give credit to the same pitchers every night,” Hinch said. “We’re all fed up with it. But we will wake up tomorrow with the same challenges. I don’t have better answers, I usually do, but I don’t have any.”
“We can’t be this bad for so long. That’s obvious.”
BOX SCORE: Rangers 7, Tigers 0
Tarik Skubal came into play with the fifth-best strikeout-to-walk percentage in baseball (23%). So when he led the leadoff batsman five squares to start the game, it didn’t bode well.
Things got worse when Skubal gave up three runs in the first inning. That was a mostly fatal deficit for the Tigers, who came into play with a league-low average of 2.6 runs per game and were 4-37 when their opponent scored at least three runs.
Do that 4-38.
“Only the pitch execution hasn’t been great lately,” Skubal said. “It’s something I need to get back to.”
It was his second shaky start in a row with five carries and eight hits in just five innings. He missed spots and fell behind Hitter more than usual. Rangers put 18 balls into play at an average exit speed of 92.7 mph – 3 mph harder than his season average.
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He hit just four with a couple of walks and he passed a solo home run to Jonah Heim. Heim doubled in two runs in the first inning.
They did most of their damage against Skubal’s two best pitches, his four-seam fastball and slider, which was a clue as to what his problem was – finding pitches on his glove side, on right-handed hitters, and on left-handers.
“I wasn’t able to drive the square and slider to the glove side as well as I would like,” he said. “It’s something I have to look at and watch a video to see I’ve changed something mechanically. Because mentally, I feel like I’m doing the same thing I’ve always done.
“I’ll have to investigate and see what I can find.”
Skubal was better after the first but he still fell behind the batsmen and handed off a solo homer to Jonah Heim after falling 3-1 behind. Heim doubled in two runs in the first inning.
“Location is key,” said Hinchsiad. “He couldn’t finish batsmen. That hurt him too. He gave up a couple of two strikes and that’s an indication of a lack of position and maybe they saw him a little too well.”
Skubal was asked if he felt any extra pressure knowing the offense had been struggling to get runs lately.
“No, not at all,” he said. “I’m not trying to force myself to do that. My job is to put our team in a position to win a ball game and I didn’t do that tonight.”
After that, you could hear a pin drop in the clubhouse. No music was played and very little was said.
“It’s baseball at this level — it’s a game of failure,” Grossman said. “It’s something you have to overcome. You keep showing up and showing your best side. Things will turn around.”