September 30, 2014

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Tribe: Detroit’s loss puts Indians in first place

George Sipple | Detroit Free Press

TORONTO — The offensive struggles continued for the Detroit Tigers. And now they’re in second place in the AL Central.

This time, they were baffled by knuckleballer R.A. Dickey and fell behind 5-0 after three innings en route to an 8-3 loss on Canada Day in front of a sellout croud of 45,766 at Rogers Centre.

Prince Fielder hit a solo home run to right on a 2-2 pitch from Dickey in the fourth inning. Victor Martinez followed with a double to right and came home on a ground-rule double to left by Omar Infante.

But then that was it. The Tigers gave up a three-run home run to Mark DeRosa in the bottom of the fourth to make it 8-2. They drop to 43-38, a half-game behind the idle Indians (44-38).

The Tigers and Indians have a crucial four-game series starting Friday in Cleveland.

Infante was one of the few offensive bright spots. He went 3-for-3 off Dickey, then added a solo home run in the ninth off lefty Aaron Loup.

The Tigers lost their third consecutive game and sixth in the past seven games. They have scored eight runs in their last 45 innings.

Brayan Pena said every team goes through a tough stretch, but this is “nothing to worry about.”

“Just a little bit that we haven’t clicked like we’re supposed to,” Pena said. “Tomorrow’s another day. We do have a lot of confidence in each other. That’s a great thing. We trust each other. We know exactly what we got. We know what kind of lineup we do have. It’s going to be fun. I’m telling you. You’re not going to be seeing sad faces for a long time. You’re going to see a lot of smiles, starting with me.

“When you got Miggy Cabrera, when you got Prince Fielder, when you got Torii Hunter, Austin Jackson in the leadoff spot and Victor Martinez, there’s nothing to worry about.”

The Tigers were coming off a 3-1 loss in getaway day in Tampa Bay and opened the four-game series against the Jays with their second consecutive day game.

While it’s rare to play back-to-back day games like that, Leyland didn’t think was a factor.

“I’d like to tell you that there’s a bunch of excuses that are legitimate, but we don’t have any,” Leyland said. “No, we were fine. We got in at a decent enough time. Good night’s rest. That had nothing to do with it.”

Leyland said the Tigers did have some good at-bats – four of their seven hits against Dickey were extra-base hits – they just didn’t have enough.

“We’re a little bit snakebitten right now, as well as not swinging as good as we can,” Leyland said. “A combination of those things is normally not a good one.”

Austin Jackson opened the game with a hard hit ball straight to Jays second baseman Munenori Kawaski.

“Jackson led off the game with a bullet, and I don’t want to sound like we’re making excuses, cause we’re not, but when we hit one hard right now they’re catching it,” Leyland said. “And we’re not hitting a whole bunch of them hard. We had seven hits today and Omar had four of ‘em. We just didn’t do a lot.”

Even when they did score in the fourth, the Jays answered with a three-run home run by Mark DeRosa in the bottom of the fourth off Luke Putkonen.

“It is what it is,” Leyland said. “We’re in a little funk right now. We gotta get ourselves out of it. You gotta roll with that punch and try to do something about it. Hey, we play again tomorrow. We got a good pitcher. They’ve got a good pitcher. We’ll see. Hopefully we’ll break out and score some runs.”