Tigers' bats go quiet after game resumes

Tigers' bats go quiet after game resumes

NEW YORK -- It was an uncommon occurrence on Saturday night, but the Tigers' offense went silent at the worst time in Game 1 of their American League Division Series against the Yankees.

Call it too much Ivan Nova at Yankee Stadium or just an offensive breakdown in a 9-3 loss that began on Friday night and finished darn close to early Sunday morning. Along the way, Delmon Young homered against CC Sabathia in the first inning on Friday and the Tigers didn't have another hit in the suspended game until Ryan Raburn singled in the fifth inning on Saturday. They didn't score another run until plating a pair in the ninth.

That's a lot of futility. It goes without saying that the Tigers' bats have to break out if they don't want a quick exit from a best-of-five series that the Yankees lead 1-0 heading into Game 2 on Sunday.

"We need to score some more runs. We need to turn it around," said Miguel Cabrera, the Tigers' top power hitter who was 0-for-3 in the game with a walk. "We've got to give run support to our pitchers. If we support our pitchers, we're going to win some games."

The Tigers didn't win 95 games and the AL Central by 15 games on the strength of Justin Verlander's 24-5 record alone. They were third in the Major Leagues with a .277 team batting average, fourth with 787 runs scored and 750 RBIs, and 11th with 169 homers, playing half their games in pitcher-friendly Comerica Park.

Cabrera led the AL in hitting with a .344 batting average and added 30 homers and 105 RBIs.

The Yankees know that Game 1 could very well be an anomaly because of the circumstances, and even though their manager, Joe Girardi, said that Nova won without having his best stuff. Girardi said there's no secret in how to continue starving the Tigers offense, just as it is with any team.

"You have to make pitches," Girardi said. "It's the only thing you can do in the series is to try to keep them from scoring a lot of runs. They're a dangerous club and we know that. This is one game. It's always nice to win the first one. Tomorrow becomes an important game. And against this club you're going to have to make pitches."

Certainly, the Tigers didn't benefit from the suspension of Game 1 because manager Jim Leyland had to run out the same lineup on Saturday he originally penciled in on Friday night. That one was stacked with eight right-handed hitters to face Sabathia. Instead, those same hitters were shut down by the right-handed Nova, who only allowed four of Detroit's seven hits.

Leyland subbed switch-hitting Wilson Betemit for righty-swinging Brandon Inge to no avail. Betemit was 0-for-2 in the game. Detroit tried to be aggressive and had a runner thrown out at the plate. A hit-and-run turned into a double play when Robinson Cano slid over to cover second base and was right there to field Magglio Ordonez's grounder up the middle.

A batter later, when Yankees right fielder Nick Swisher dove flat out to snare Young's line drive, well, players in the Detroit dugout had to begin to sense that it wasn't their night. Or two nights, for that matter.

"Not really," Leyland said about the hit-and-run play, in particular. "We had [Austin Jackson] going. Magglio hits that hole quite a bit. This one he happened to hit up the middle. He's pretty good at shooting the ball to right field in the hole between first and second. That one happened to hit right at him, right where Robbie was going."

In all, the Tigers never had an extra-base hit on Saturday and scored their final runs in the ninth when the game was completely out of reach. That's certainly not the way they usually play. They were fourth in the league with 1,540 hits and tied for fourth with a .340 on-base percentage. They know how to generate offense. The question now is whether they will.

"Our offense is obviously better than it was tonight," Cabrera said. "Hopefully we'll score some runs. It's all about getting run support for our pitchers and winning games."

Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.