By Ashley Scoby
@AshleyScoby

Same issues; different day. The Tigers could throw that on a banner and hang it at Comerica Park to describe this season.

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In a series against the Rangers this weekend where run opportunities have slipped past the team like a wet fish, the same problem popped up on Sunday. The Tigers left nine on base and struggled to maintain their own momentum in a 4-2 loss.

Detroit took an initial 1-0 lead in the first inning, but couldn’t build off that, leaving Miguel Cabrera and J.D. Marinez stranded on the corners after a Nick Castellanos strikeout. In the second inning, Ian Kinsler’s pop-up left Tyler Collins and Jose Iglesias on base.

McCann’s flyout to right center in the fifth left Cabrera and Castellanos on first and second.

And so it goes.

“There’s not much you can do,” said Tigers manager Brad Ausmus. “I can’t say, ‘Hey, go get a hit. Runners on base – go get a hit and drive them in.’ That’s not how baseball works. … They’re obviously good hitters; they have good numbers. But right now we’re not getting the big hit to drive in the big runs.”

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Detroit does have good numbers – better than good, even. They lead the MLB in batting average at .274. They’re third in slugging percentage (.430) and second in OPS (.762).

But when it came down to it in this weekend’s series, little of that translated into actual offense. The Tigers went 18 straight innings from Thursday through Saturday without scoring a single run. If not for a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth on Saturday, they would have been shut out twice in a row.

“It’s a tough game,” said catcher James McCann. “The toughest thing to do in all of sports is to hit. Then you throw in the fact that you’ve got to drive in runs and hit under pressure; it’s not an easy thing. But no doubt, we need to have better at-bats in big situations.”

After dropping the Rangers series 3-1, the Tigers slide back to five games under .500 at 59-64. And their playoff hopes slide even further: Detroit is five games back from the wild card spot.

Baseball – full of awkward bounces, quick-dropping fly balls and gaps in the infield – has much to do with chance. And the Tigers are being reminded of that even more this season.

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“In baseball you always want to find a reason to explain stuff,” Ausmus said. “Sometimes there’s no reason. It’s just the way it is.”