Tigers lick wounds on way out of Cleveland
The quotes were short and sweet in the Tigers clubhouse as they left Cleveland with their second three-game series sweep to the Indians in as many weeks, this one more humbling than the last. Players ate quickly, packed even quicker and readied for the short trip home.
The flight back to Detroit is quicker than a morning commute. But after six games, the gap between Detroit and Cleveland feels wider than Lake Erie, even as they sit next to each other in the AL Central standings, both a game over .500.
“They outplayed us. Simple as that,” Brad Ausmus said. “They outpitched us. They outhit us. They outdefended us. Period. They were the better baseball team out there. They’ve been the better baseball team all six games that they’ve played against us.”
Or, as Ausmus put it more succinctly, “Quite frankly, they kind of kicked our asses all six games.”
Or, as Victor Martinez put it even more succinctly, “We got beat. Move on. It’s that simple.”
For a team that has had its way with Cleveland for the last five years, even last season, it’s a huge reversal. The Tigers were 37-19 against the Indians over the previous three seasons, including 11-7 last year. That said, they didn’t want to dwell on it.
“Tomorrow is a new day,” Ian Kinsler said, “so as far as next series and the team that’s coming to Detroit, this is something that we forget quickly. But next time we play Cleveland, we understand that they’ve won six in a row on us. I think everybody in here knows that. So whatever you need to do to get ready to play those guys the next time we face them, then guys are going to be ready to play.
“We were playing good baseball. We had Oakland coming to town and we played them tough, and then obviously in Minnesota we played really good baseball. Something with Cleveland right now. Baseball’s weird that way. Obviously it never feels good to be swept, but it’s a long season. We have 12 more games against them or whatever. There’s more matches to come. There’s more times when we face this team. But it never feels good to be swept.”
There was a sense among some players that the “something” was momentum and confidence. The Tigers had their chances to take early leads Wednesday and Thursday and couldn’t do it. Their at-bats Thursday with runners in scoring position weren’t good. On Thursday, they had solidly struck balls from Victor Martinez and Justin Upton in the first inning with a chance to plate a run, both balls caught.
“It is what it is,” Martinez said. “We had opportunities. We didn’t get the best out of it. Everything they hit seemed like they found holes. We got some good hard-hit balls with men in scoring position right at somebody. You can’t control that. We got beat and we move on, start a new series.”
Said Jarrod Saltalamacchia: “They’re just getting big hits right now. That’s the name of the game. They’ve got guys in that lineup that can hit, and so do we. It’s just a matter of timely hitting, getting in the right situation and delivering. They’ve been able to do that, and we haven’t. Next time, hopefully we can turn that around.”
They’ll have to wait a while for that. The Tigers and Indians don’t play each other again until the final weekend of June, a three-game series at Comerica Park. They meet again the week before the All-Star break in Cleveland.
Those games could have a big impact on how both teams perceive each other heading into the weeks leading up to the trade deadline.
“We want to beat these guys, especially in our division,” Saltalamacchia said. “But we still have our head above water. Them beating us six out of six, that adds a little fuel. I expect us to be a different team when we come to play them, and I expect them to be a different team. That’s the way it goes.”