Cabrera: Road hurdles no excuse for Tigers

Detroit currently on third three-city trip of season

Cabrera: Road hurdles no excuse for Tigers

HOUSTON -- The Tigers arrived in town around 4 a.m. CT Monday morning, faced the Astros 15 hours later and looked like they might have been sleepwalking against Brad Peacock and the Astros bullpen in a 1-0 loss. But manager Brad Ausmus and slugger Miguel Cabrera said it was more about good pitching than poor sleeping.

Hard as the travel has been for the Tigers this season, Cabrera insisted it's not an excuse. It can't be an excuse.

"You have to grind," Cabrera said. "We know we've got a tough schedule. We know May is going to be tough for us. If we can handle May, this hard schedule, I think we're going to be OK the rest of the season, because we already have three road trips of, like, 10 days."

Monday started a three-city, 10-day, 11-game trip that will take the Tigers to Chicago and Kansas City before they return home. They'll have a late-night flight out of Houston on Thursday and land Friday morning in Chicago, where they'll open a weekend series against the White Sox with a doubleheader beginning at 4:10 p.m. CT.

Since the season-opening series in Chicago, every Tigers road trip this season has included three cities and at least nine games. They went to Cleveland, Tampa Bay and Minnesota in mid-April. Their trip earlier this month took them to Oakland, Arizona and Anaheim. By the time they wrap up this trip May 31 in Kansas City, they'll have played 19 of their last 25 games on the road across six cities.

"I think that's too much for a team that early, but we're going to grind," Cabrera said. "We're not going to put an excuse out there. I think we have to battle. I think we have to go out there and do our job better."

The bright side for the Tigers is that they'll have one more three-city trip after this one, and it's a comparatively easy July-August trek to New York, Baltimore and Pittsburgh. Their West Coast trip next month will have its challenges, with a late-night flight from Seattle to San Diego, but they'll take it.

All of these games are vital, not just at season's end but for the non-waiver Trade Deadline at the end of July. The Tigers are keenly aware of their precarious standing between contenders and sellers with the second-highest payroll in the Majors, and that another summer hovering around .500 might push them toward the latter with so many expiring contracts and a youth movement on the horizon.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.