Set points: Getaway day from the division
Miguel Cabrera is done trying to figure out the day game-night game split. All he can do is shake his head.
“The glasses,” he said with a laugh. “You see?”
He wore clear glasses Wednesday night to keep the wind and the pollen out of his eyes. He wears sunglasses during day games to keep the glare out. The glasses he wore Wednesday also keep glare from the lights out of his eyes, which have been affected by allergies for the past several days.
With Thursday’s two-homer game, he improved to a .471 hitter (32-for-68) with six doubles, eight home runs and 25 RBIs in day games. He’s batting .158 (9-for-57) with no homers and one RBI in night games.
He knows about the day-night split. He can’t figure it out. He’s done trying to.
So are many of his teammates. Because Cabrera isn’t the only one with those types of splits, though his are the most extreme.
The Tigers have baseball’s most prolific offense in daylight, including a Major League-best .317 average, .374 on-base percentage, .894 OPS, 23 home runs and 104 RBIs. They’ve scored 113 runs in 18 day games, an average of 6.28 runs per game. The Royals are averaging slightly higher at 6.36 (70 runs in 11 day games), but with a smaller sample size.
By night, the Tigers bat just .231, 12th in the American League. Their .626 OPS is last in the AL and next-to-last in the Majors. They’re averaging just 2.47 runs per game at night.
It’s like the opposite of a superhero. They put their cape on in broad daylight.
“I don’t know. There’s stats for everything,” Ian Kinsler said. “I don’t know what our record is this side of the Mississippi, but it’s probably pretty good.”
One time of day, they can’t get the big hit. Another time of day, Bryan Holaday is falling a triple shy of the cycle, and Anthony Gose has his first career four-hit game.
“You can say we were struggling if you want,” Kinsler said, “but at any point an offense can erupt. We understand how good we are and we just need to keep swinging the bat.”
What went right: Eventually, the offense got it turned around, though it struggled for the first two games. Nick Castellanos had a solid series throughout, going 5-for-10 with a couple walks and consistently good at-bats. The bullpen tossed 10 innings without giving up a run, including work from every Tigers reliever and back-to-back outings from Al Alburquerque. Anibal Sanchez got his pitches down again and thrived.
What went wrong: The offense struggled to take advantage of opportunities for the first two games of the series. Victor Martinez looked like he took a step backward batting left-handed, struggling enough to earn a day off Thursday ahead of three days out of the starting lineup in St. Louis.
Takeaway: The Tigers are going to have to win some low-scoring games on pitching and defense, no matter what people think of the offense. It’s just a question of how many. Their overall pitching against a combustible Twins lineup showed they’re good enough to have a chance to do that.
Snapshot moment: Jose Iglesias’ shovel-flip double play turned a first-inning Twins rally into an easy opening inning for Anibal Sanchez, who caught momentum from there. As Sanchez put it, it was probably the play of the game.
Pitching performance of the series: Sanchez’s eight innings looked like the front-line starter the Tigers need out of him, including nine strikeouts and some very good breaking balls that brought him back to his strikeout form.
Hitting performance of the series: As good as Cabrera’s two home runs were, Castellanos had a very good day Thursday with an opposite-field home run, a line drive leadoff single, and a 10-pitch walk out of an 0-2 hole that might be one of the better at-bats from a Tiger this season.