Terrible defense? Check. A lack of clutch hitting? Check. Poor bullpen work, questionable managing and mental mistakes? Check, check and check.
The Detroit Tigers had a chance Sunday to retake control of the AL Central — thanks to Chicago’s loss to the Angels, a split of a doubleheader with the lowly Twins would have given Detroit a share of the division lead; a sweep would have put the Tigers one game up with 10 to go.
Instead, the Tigers rolled over, again, against a team with nothing to play for. They lost the opener, 10-4, and followed it up with a dreadful 2-1 defeat in the nightcap.
So, as the season heads into its final few days, the Tigers still sit looking up at Chicago in the AL Central standings. And if they happen to miss the playoffs, it should come as no surprise to anyone. This team has failed all year, and especially down the stretch, to do the types of things that great teams do.
Whether you want to blame this on Jim Leyland or not is your choice, but here are the facts: The Tigers have lost 11 straight one-run games, all in the past month. They lost another one Sunday, and yet, their approach remained the same.
With the game tied in the sixth, Tigers speeedster Quintin Berry reached base with nobody out. Avisail Garcia, another player who is fleet afoot, lead off the bottom of the seventh with a hit. In neither situation did the Tigers attempt a steal nor did Detroit try to bunt Garcia over in the seventh (Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder followed Berry in the sixth, so you can forgive the lack of a bunt there, if not the lack of a steal attempt).
If those weren’t situations to try to manufacture a run, in a tie game late in September with the offense struggling and the temperature dropping, then when is the time?
Of course, Detroit could have changed everything with one big hit or some solid defense, but those things eluded the Tigers again.
It was Andy Dirks’ issues in the field in Game 1 of the doubleheader that haunted Detroit. Dirks misplayed a pair of fly balls in the sixth inning, leading to five Minnesota runs. The Tigers then committed three more errors in the second game, including one by Alex Avila on a potential 5-2-3 double play that allowed Minnesota to tie the game at one.
To top the entire miserable day off, Leyland then turned to closer Jose Valverde in a tie game in the 10th (despite Valverde being notoriously poor in those spots) and — surprise, surprise! — Valverde quickly gave up the go-ahead run.
The Tigers cannot win on the road. They cannot win close games. They cannot beat any of the teams they are supposed to beat.
How are we even talking about the playoffs?
The only reason we still are is that the White Sox have been just as lackluster, including the current five-game skid they find themselves on. Detroit has only taken advantage of their failings enough to still be in the hunt with 10 days left, but it’s hard to envision Detroit running off enough wins to make it matter.
There is more than enough blame to go around here — Leyland, the players, GM Dave Dombrowski. Pin it on anyone you want. After a day (and night) like Sunday, every member of that team deserves to hear a little criticism.