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Tigers close books on historically rough trip

KANSAS CITY -- It can't go on like this. The Tigers know it. The numbers say it.

Detroit left Toronto four days ago feeling like it had three games of the same story: The Blue Jays pounding out runs, the Tigers falling out of reach quickly, and then the add-on runs piling up. As they left Kansas City, they had to feel a sense of déjà vu as they packed up to go home, hoping to leave an historically tough road trip behind.

Thursday night's 15-7 loss to the Royals marked the second time in five days giving up that many runs, and the second consecutive night with a dozen runs allowed or more. The Tigers gave up 27 runs over the final two games of the series, and 32 runs for the three-game set after surrendering 29 runs over three games at Rogers Centre.

"You better learn from it," manager Brad Ausmus said. "You better try to get better, because if it gets any worse, I don't know what we'll do. This was a very tough road trip for the pitching staff. We do have some young guys, but we've got to work to get them better. Tough lessons learned on this road trip, I think."

Ausmus left Toronto talking about the need to keep things positive for their young players, to keep them feeling good about coming to the ballpark. And for the most part, players tried to keep their focus up.

"It's frustrating," said Matt Boyd, who took Thursday's loss after six runs allowed on seven hits with just three outs recorded. "But it doesn't define us as a team. We go home, get to play tomorrow and have a chance to put all this behind us."

The Tigers gave up 61 runs for the six-game trip, the most by any Major League team over any six-game stretch -- road, home, mid-series, whenever -- since the Cubs gave up the same total from July 28 to Aug. 3, 2010. That stretch featured losses of 17-2 and 18-1.

For the Tigers, it was their most runs allowed in a six-game stretch since 2004, when they gave up 63 runs from May 2-8. That included a 16-15 walk-off loss in Texas that featured a 10-run fifth inning.

That 2004 Tigers featured a largely young pitching staff going through growing pains. Aside from Justin Verlander and Alfredo Simon, so does this one.

"We've gone through quite a transition, really, since the Trade Deadline, trading away those guys and then [Anibal] Sanchez going down," Ausmus said in Toronto. "We've got a very different-looking staff. Some of these guys are just getting to know each other, really, some new additions, younger guys. But it's important for the staff to make sure they come in positive, like they have a chance to win every game, and still prepare the same exact way."

Boyd believed he knew the problem behind his struggles on Thursday, especially with two strikes. It was a matter of putting those lessons to action.

"I just couldn't throw stuff where I wanted to," he said, "and that's what it comes down to. I felt good but couldn't locate anything, and just didn't have good stuff at all tonight. I just got beat."

Jason Beck is a reporter for Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast.
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