Early ups and downs a familiar feeling for Tigers
The pattern is a familiar one for Detroit manager Brad Ausmus: The Tigers start the season brilliantly and look like they might be one of the best teams in baseball, then they fall back toward .500 just as quickly.
It's happened again this season. Detroit was 7-3 but has now lost six of seven.
''Right now, we're just not clicking,'' Ausmus said. ''We're not getting what we need offensively, but honestly, a lot of it is pitching. We're letting teams roll out leads on us, and then we're always trying to come from behind. I think we will be fine offensively, but we need better starting pitching.''
In 2014, the first season as manager for Ausmus, Detroit started 27-12, but the Tigers followed that up with a 9-20 stretch. They did win the AL Central that year, but last season was a different story. Detroit started 11-2, but it was all downhill from there in a 74-win season.
After a 10-1 loss to Cleveland on Saturday, Ausmus kept the clubhouse closed for nearly 30 minutes for what he called a ''discussion'' - but Detroit lost to the Indians again Sunday.
Newly acquired right-hander Jordan Zimmermann has yet to allow a run in three starts, but he's the only real bright spot in the rotation so far. The Tigers need more from Justin Verlander, although his strikeout totals have been solid. Anibal Sanchez hasn't made it through the sixth inning yet, and he allowed six earned runs against the Indians on Saturday.
Offensively, Miguel Cabrera and Justin Upton are off to slow starts, although it's still fair to assume they'll both contribute plenty.
Meanwhile, the division looks tough, as expected. The Chicago White Sox (13-6) and defending champion Kansas City (12-6) have moved out in front.
Here are a few other developments from around the majors:
ON AND ON AND ON
Sunday was quite a day for extra-inning enthusiasts. Washington beat Minnesota 6-5 in 16, and Pittsburgh beat Arizona 12-10 in 13. Boston and Houston played 12 innings, with the Red Sox prevailing 7-5.
The game between the Pirates and Diamondbacks was especially odd. Shelby Miller, Arizona's No. 2 starter, ended up having to play left field, and Diamondbacks ace Zack Greinke pinch hit. (He got a hit and was replaced by Miller, who scored as a pinch-runner.)
All three of those extra-inning games Sunday came about because the home team tied the game in the bottom of the ninth.
Blake Snell made his major league debut Saturday, and the Tampa Bay prospect pitched pretty well. The left-hander allowed a run and two hits in five innings, striking out six with one walk.
Snell was selected the minor league player of the year last season by Baseball America and USA Today, but his impressive showing for the Rays was just a tease for fantasy owners - for now, at least. He was optioned back to Triple-A Durham after the game.
He's still worth keeping an eye on for later.
LINE OF THE WEEK
Jake Arrieta of the Cubs threw a no-hitter Thursday against Cincinnati, the latest gem in what is now one of the most sensational pitching stretches in baseball history. Since the start of August last year, Arrieta is 15-0 with a 0.53 ERA. He has only one no-decision in that span, and if he keeps this up, there's no telling what his final numbers could look like with the run support he's likely to get from Chicago's powerful offense.
Follow Noah Trister at www.Twitter.com/noahtrister