Supporting cast needs to pick up offense

Supporting cast needs to pick up offense

Supporting cast needs to pick up offense
TORONTO -- The Tigers started off the second half of the season where they left off in the first, going 8-2 over their first 10 games post-All-Star break after winning five straight heading into the Midsummer Classic.

But since then, Detroit has lost four of its past five games -- including Saturday's 5-1 loss to Toronto -- and skipper Jim Leyland has put the onus on his offense.

After averaging 5.4 runs per game over the 10-game stretch, the Tigers have scored 2.8 over their past five. While the sample seems quite small, Leyland is not impressed.

"Guys have to produce runs, that's what it's all about. It's that simple," Leyland said before Saturday's game. "You don't win games when guys get on, you win games when guys knock them in.

"We have to get production. I'm just telling you the facts. That's who wins games, that's why the game is made of runs. That's what counts -- runs."

While the Tigers boast two of the best run producers in the game in All-Stars Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, Leyland expects more out of the supporting cast, who are likely needed to play a big role if Detroit has aspirations of playing October baseball.

Cabrera entered Saturday's contest against the Blue Jays tied for the Major League lead in RBIs with 83, while Fielder was tied for fourth with 72.

"The guys who knock [in runs] get paid. It will never change," Leyland said. "That's why Cabrera and Fielder are stars -- they knock in runs."

The powerful 3-4 tandem has gotten support from center fielder Austin Jackson, who is enjoying a breakout season, sporting the second highest OPS on the team at .900. But much of the rest of the lineup has provided sporadic production, a recipe that Leyland doesn't believe will be successful in the long run.

As a team, the Tigers are among the American League leaders in batting average and on-base percentage, but are in the middle of the pack in runs scored.

Leyland is counting on more of his players, outside of Fielder and Cabrera, to take advantage of the amount the club has been able to get runners on base and cut down on the number of those that have been stranded.

"There is no secret whatsoever. It's plain and simple -- you have to knock in runs if you want to win games, said Leyland. "Nobody has ever won a game scoring no runs."