Struggling bats frustrate Tigers on road trip

Ausmus, players believe the offense is capable of more than what they've shown

Struggling bats frustrate Tigers on road trip

ANAHEIM -- Ian Kinsler paused when asked about the Tigers' frustration level. As he chose his words, the silence encapsulated the emotion of the clubhouse as players packed after a 2-5 West Coast trip.

"It's definitely frustrating," Kinsler said, then paused.

After about five seconds, Kinsler's continuation lasted one word.

"Yes," he said.

It's difficult for him and others to figure out what to say now. They believe they have a better offense than what they have shown -- not just this week, but for the better part of the last month. They believe they had better swings and at-bats than what the numbers showed over four games against the Angels.

"We need to keep fighting and trying to make something happen," Miguel Cabrera said. "Not an excuse, but we try and we play to make something happen, but you see we hit line drives right at them. We had good at-bats and struck out. When you put that together, you see we aren't doing good. We have to keep battling."

They ended up with 10 runs over four games, capped by Sunday night's 4-2 defeat. More than half came in Saturday's 8-6 loss, making what had been a 7-1 deficit more palatable. They scored just four runs in Oakland the series before, but won two out of three.

Asked to sum up the series, manager Brad Ausmus deadpanned, "It was bad. When you lose four games in a four-game series, that's bad."

The Tigers hit .261 for May, fifth-best in the American League. They scored 106 runs over 29 games, fifth-worst in the league.

"When you sign a player or acquire a player or bring a player up, you're doing that based on what you think he can do over six months of baseball," Ausmus said Sunday. "When things aren't going well for a month and a half, or a month, you assume that over six months, it returns to the norm."

Batters believe it, too. But the longer they struggle, the more long-term trust conflicts with short-term pressure.

"Honestly, you can't succumb to that," Kinsler said. "You have to take your at-bat for what it's worth. However many at-bats you get every night, you need to be prepared for those at-bats. When you start adding extra pressure on yourself because the way the team as a whole is swinging, then it becomes difficult."

This time, Kinsler wasn't finished.

"But also," he added, "there's plays that happened that sucked the wind out of us."

Cabrera believes players are putting extra pressure on themselves. The more outs pile up, well-struck and otherwise, the more pressure builds.

"When you put a lot of pressure on yourself, you overdo it," Cabrera said. "You overswing. You want to make the extra play. You want to take the extra base. And that's when you make mistakes, when you try too hard.

"I think we have to cut down a little bit. We still have to play aggressive. ... We want to win. But if we keep thinking like we're thinking right now, I think we're going to be in trouble."

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.