DETROIT -- If there's one thing Tigers manager Jim Leyland has never questioned this season it's his team's effort. He acknowledges the club might not be living up to fans' expectations, but this team, he insists, wants to win equally as bad as the fans.
"I can sit here today and honestly tell you ... there was only one game this year that I was disappointed in our approach," Leyland said prior to Friday night's game against the White Sox. "We got beat and that's the only game all year I thought we were blah. It wasn't that we dogged it, but we were just blah. But that's not an issue here."
Leyland didn't share what game that was, but it was the only one he could remember in the previous 130 that he had been upset about. And still, it wasn't with the team's effort, just mood.
In most cases, the players' efforts on a second-place team just three games back in the division wouldn't even be questioned. But being swept heading into a crucial series against the division-leading White Sox certainly magnified the situation.
And scoring one run in the final 18 innings against the team with the fifth-worst ERA (4.26) in the American League made it eye-popping. So much so that Leyland was asked if the team lacked a spark, which made him quickly disagree.
"Miguel [Cabrera] and Prince [Fielder] can't drive in a run every at-bat or hit a home run every at-bat. Justin [Verlander] can't strike somebody out every [at-bat]. It doesn't work like that," Leyland said. "That's baseball. It's OK to be disappointed, but I disagree with the spark thing.
"You look sluggish and boring when you don't score runs. Whenever you don't score runs and aren't running around the bases, you just don't look very good. That's the way it is because people want to come and see you score runs, and when you don't score runs, they're bored so you look blah. That's just the way it goes. ... Spark is probably not the right word."