detroit — The Tigers clubhouse remained closed for at least 30 minutes after the game Wednesday.
After being swept at home by a depleted White Sox squad, losing the finale in humiliating fashion 13-0, having to use three position players to cover the final three innings on the mound, it was time to clear the air.
“No one likes getting their a– handed to them every night,” said catcher Eric Haase, who confirmed the team held a players-only meeting. “We think we’re a better team than this but for whatever reason we’re not clicking. We’re looking to kind of get back in that groove.”
Haase said players spoke on a broad range of issues with the general consensus of, “We need to play better.”
“It’s obviously frustrating,” Haase said. “The way we’ve been playing, nobody likes it. It’s very old. We want to change this. But getting into the weeds with the negative stuff isn’t going to be a good path going forward. So hopefully we aired it out and we’ll be ready to go tomorrow.”
Shortstop Javier Báez, who was given the day off Wednesday, didn’t want to call it a meeting and he didn’t want it to come off like there was any kind of dissension in the room. Just a group of players trying to figure out how to get back to playing winning baseball.
“We were just talking,” he said. “And the first thing I say is that we don’t have to be around each other. We’re already around each other. We’re having a ping-pong tournament and everybody is there, cheering for each other. So it’s not about we don’t know each other or we don’t know how they are or whatever.
“But baseball-wise, everything’s got to click the right way.”
The Tigers were outscored 27-6 by the White Sox. They’ve been outscored 33-6 during this current four-game losing skid. They were shut out for the ninth time this season, matching their total from last season.
“We are accountable to the performance,” manager AJ Hinch said. “This is unacceptable. We are better than this. We haven’t lived up to the standards we expect. What the solution is, that’s something we talk about all the time. As long as the messaging is consistent with what we feel is right .
“That’s where we are right now. We’re all accountable, the players, coaches, manager, front office, everybody. Because it’s been below par.”
Tigers starter Alex Faedo hadn’t allowed more than two runs in any of his first seven starts this season. But he gave up a three-run home run to Yoan Moncada in the first inning and ended up yielding seven runs and nine hits and not getting out of the fourth inning.
That left the final six innings to an already overworked bullpen. This on the day after the bullpen covered five innings Tuesday night, and five innings the night before and five innings the day before that.
Relivers had pitched 27 innings over the last six games before Wednesday. That’s why Hinch did what he loathes to do — he used not one but three position players to finish the game.
“Pretty taxed bullpen, pretty bad game and seven games until the next day off,” he said. “At that point we’re just trying to save our best chance to win tomorrow.”
Harold Castro, Kody Clemens and Tucker Barnhart at those last three innings — the first time in franchise history the Tigers have used three position players to pitch in a game, per the Elias Sports Bureau.
“It’s very conflicting,” Hinch said. “It decompresses the game when you bring in a position player to pitch. It doesn’t make you feel any better. I hate it for the game. I hate if for the White Sox and their players. It’s ugly when that happens. Thankfully everybody got through it.”
Castro, who started the game at shortstop, pitched a scoreless seventh. He was changing the pace of his delivery, stopping and starting, quick pitching. He got a double-play grounder from Andrew Vaughn and then struck out Leury Garcia on three pitches — two 47-mph spinners and then an 80-mph fastball.
“We take the embarrassment and make it fun,” Báez said. “Obviously position players pitching is fun, but the score is not fun. So we take the good parts of the situations we’re in and we take the positive out of it.”
It didn’t go as well for Clemens in the eighth. He gave up a run on three hits. Abreu doubled off both Clemens and Barnhart. Moncada had five hits and five RBIs.
“Listen, if you’re not motivated by today, even embarrassed when the game gets out of hand to the point where we had to do what we did today, I don’t know,” Hinch said. “This is baseball at its highest level. We expect better.
“Guys are trying. We’re not caving in. We just have to encourage them to have a night off and get to a new team tomorrow.”
The temperature at game time was 94 degrees, making it the hottest game at Comerica Park since the White Sox rolled in on Aug. 31, 2012. With the time of possession weighted strongly in Chicago’s favor, scoring in five of the first six innings, the Tigers defenders bore the brunt of the heat.
“I think we’ve just got to play better,” Baez said. “Play better baseball and I think we have to focus on the things that we can control. It’s just things are going bad for us and we obviously get frustrated, but we can’t give up trying.
“We’ve got to go out there tomorrow and play a new series and a new game.”