Tigers practice patience, open six-game homestand with Pirates
Patience and simplicity would help the Detroit Tigers dent the scoreboard with more consistency.
That's the advice that manager Ron Gardenhire wants to sink into his players' minds as his team begins a six-game homestand on Tuesday. The Tigers carry a three-game losing streak into their series opener against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Tigers struck out 13 times and left 10 runners on base during a 6-4 loss at Minnesota on Sunday.
"We need to learn to shorten our swings up and put the ball in play," Gardenhire said. "We're taking big whiffs an awful lot (against) a lot of pitches. As we've talked about for a long time around here, there's a two-strike approach. We need people to really buy into it."
Gardenhire's team is still a game above .500 despite scoring four or fewer runs in all but two of its 15 games. Miguel Cabrera, Nicholas Castellanos and Jeimer Candelario, who normally occupy three of top five spots in the batting order, have yet to hit a home run.
"We have guys who should hit the ball out of the ballpark but there's also a way to cut down the strikeouts and put it in play and give yourself a chance," Gardenhire said. "We have a lot of young people in the lineup and we'll get better."
The Tigers are hoping Castellanos and cleanup hitter Niko Goodrum both get better, but in a different way. Castellanos missed the last two games with a toe injury, while Goodrum was sidelined by an illness.
"We've got another day off tomorrow," Gardenhire said on Sunday. "(Goodrum) is sick, I just talked to the trainer again. Hopefully, he'll be there (in the lineup) in a couple of days."
Left-hander Matthew Boyd (1-1, 2.60 ERA) will start on Tuesday. Boyd has been sharp in all three of his starts, striking out 29 in 17 1/3 innings while walking just six batters.
In his last start on Wednesday, Boyd limited Cleveland to one run on four hits in six innings. He's 0-2 with a 10.57 ERA in two career starts against the Pirates.
He'll be opposed by right-hander Jordan Lyles (1-0, 0.82 ERA), who also delivered a stellar performance on Wednesday. Lyles held the Chicago Cubs to one run on three hits in six innings while recording 10 strikeouts. He's 0-0 with a 2.57 ERA in two career outings against Detroit.
First baseman Josh Bell has been the Pirates' hottest hitter. He carries a five-game hitting streak into the series. Bell doubled twice, scored two runs and knocked in two more in a 4-3 win at Washington on Sunday.
"We like where he is right now," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "He's making good contact and grinding out at-bats. He has a good eye at the plate. The ball jumps off his bat. He hits the ball really hard, and at times it goes really far."
Bell is batting .314 for the season with three homers and 12 RBIs.
"I feel like I'm in a good place," Bell said. "My timing is where I want it, and I'm making good contact."
--Field Level MediaHome