It was a little more than three weeks ago that the first-place Detroit Tigers acquired left-hander David Price to bolster one of baseball’s best rotations.
Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski told reporters why he sought out another starter rather than a hitter.
“The game today is a tough game to score runs,” Dombrowski said. “We’re leading the league in hitting (batting average). There are not a lot of offensive upgrades that are out there.
“I think we’ll score enough runs. We’re not swinging as well as we can with some guys right now. If you can get into the postseason, against good pitching, offense is tough to come by. I think we have some guys who will step up. But all in all, I think you’re going to get it done with good pitching, too.”
Entering Saturday, the Royals have ruled baseball in the month of August. They are 16-4 this month and sitting atop the AL Central. They have the highest batting average (.279), most stolen bases (23), are second in runs scored (102) and are eighth in home runs (18).
The Tigers this month are 16th in average (.248), fifth in stolen bases (18), are tied for 11th in runs (85) and 12th in home runs (16).
Since Aug. 4, the Tigers have received two home runs from the quartet of Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, Torii Hunter and Ian Kinsler.
Center fielder Austin Jackson was dealt in the Price trade, and Ezequiel Carrera (.212) and Rajai Davis (.241) are not swinging the bats well.
Before the Tigers’ game Friday at Minnesota, manager Brad Ausmus talked about the importance of the offense.
“Generally speaking, it’s the big inning that wins baseball games,” Ausmus told reporters. “I would say in most games, the (winning) team scores more runs in one inning than the losing team scores all game. That, right there, is the basis for the idea of playing for the big inning.”
The Tigers were bit by an opponent’s big innings Friday night, giving up a six-run inning and a nine-run inning in a 20-6 loss. On Saturday, the Twins put up seven in the second inning on the way to a 12-4 win in the opener of a doubleheader.
That, of course, points to another Tigers’ weakness: the bullpen.
In an 11-inning span between Friday’s game and Saturday’s twinbill opener, the Tigers used 11 different pitchers in 11 innings, including shortstop Andrew Romine.
In August, Royals’ relief pitchers have struggled at times and have a 3.42 ERA and opponents have hit .253, per Fangraphs. However, Royals relievers have walked just 2.09 per nine innings and have 11 saves with no blown saves.
The Tigers’ bullpen has a 4.71 ERA and opponents have hit .286. Worse yet, Detroit relievers are issuing 6.57 walks per nine innings with five saves and three blown saves.
Five Tigers relievers have thrown 45 or more innings and three have an ERA north of 4.00: Joe Nathan (5.28), Ian Krol (4.96) and Phil Coke (4.24).
Milwaukee catcher Jonathan Lucroy leads the majors in doubles with 42. If he leads the National League in that category, he would become the first full-time catcher in the majors to lead a league in doubles.
Through Thursday, the average major-league game time in 2014 had climbed to 3 hours, 2 minutes and 54 seconds, which would be the longest average time on record if it holds for the entire season.
Seattle’s Hisashi Iwakuma could become only the sixth major-league pitcher since 1893 to finish a season with the same number of wins or more as walks allowed (he had 12 wins and 12 walks through Thursday) while also pitching enough innings to qualify for the ERA crown. The four pitchers who accomplished the feat a total of five times were Christy Mathewson in 1913 and 1914, Slim Sallee in 1919, Bret Saberhagen in 1994 and Carlos Silva in 2005.
The last time the Royals had a better record than the Cardinals this late in the season was in 1995.
Corey Kluber, with 205 strikeouts in 186 innings, is on pace for 270 strikeouts for the season. That would be the sixth-highest total in Indians history, and the second-highest total for any Indians right-hander, behind Bob Feller’s 348 in 1946, which still stands as the club’s all-time record.
Words of wisdom
“It’s a little bit disappointing, it’s a little bit hard, but like I say, we’re all here for the same thing, and that’s hopefully getting us into the World Series. This is no time to be selfish or to be putting your head down, like this is the end of the world. You have to keep going for the team.”
| Baltimore’s Ubaldo Jimenez on being moved from the rotation to the bullpen
Compiled with help of baseball reporters around the country