Detroit has gone 1-2 in each of its first three series of the season. In manager Jim Leyland's words after the second set, "We're what we deserve to be."
It's way too early to say that things going wrong at the moment won't correct themselves in the coming weeks or that positive trends won't go negative when the month turns.
But a couple of trends that have plagued Detroit in the early going cropped up again Sunday when Kansas City rapped out 15 hits in a 9-5 victory.
The Tigers made four errors -- all on throws and two by pitchers trying to pick runners off first in situations where more caution might have been called for -- and now have 12 in nine games this season. All the Royals' runs were earned, however.
The other issue has been pitching.
Detroit has suffered from short innings by starters who were expected to last longer into games and by middle relief that has been hurt by the inability of others to pick up the slack felt by injuries to Joel Zumaya, who hasn't pitched since February, and Ryan Perry, who has only been disabled since April 7.
Only once has a Tigers starter pitched seven innings, putting extra strain on the bullpen.
Leyland would like to gently break in rookie Brayan Villarreal, who has shown his inexperience against lefties and has allowed two runs in his four appearances.
Starter Rick Porcello had his problems with five runs five innings but three of the four relievers -- Enrique Gonzalez, Daniel Schlereth and Robbie Weinhardt -- contributed to four runs over the final three innings as Kansas City maintained its breathing room.
"Those add-on runs were killers," Leyland said. "You can't make the pitches we did and get away with it at the major league level. It won't happen and it doesn't matter what time of year it is. We talk about holding them down. We feel like we have a pretty good offensive club and we have a chance to come back. But we couldn't hold them down."
The veteran Gonzalez was ticketed for early relief but Leyland has been trying him in the middle. He has been touched for five runs in three games.
Schlereth has been effective but made a wild throw on a pickoff attempt in the eighth to set up a Royals run. It was the first run Schlereth has given up in four outings covering four innings.
Weinhardt, recalled to replace Perry, has been scored upon in both his appearances.
Thomas is being asked to fill the role handled so well by Phil Coke, now starting, last year and Bobby Seay the year before, that of the late-inning guy who can handle both a batter and an inning effectively. He has two scoreless games after allowing runs in his first two.
The combination of critical defensive lapses along with starters who are putting too much pressure on a temporarily undermanned bullpen have Detroit just where it deserves to be -- 3-6.
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