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Tigers in 4th place at latest point since '08

Detroit falls behind White Sox in AL Central

DETROIT -- Tigers manager Brad Ausmus paused for an answer when asked about the standing of his team's confidence after its fifth loss in six games.

"That's a good question," Ausmus said after Tuesday's 10-2 loss to the Rays. "For me, I feel like every time we come to the field, we have a chance to win. But it's probably a better question for the players."

Their standing in the American League Central is easier to quantify, and it's a spot the Tigers haven't seen at this point in a season in seven years.

What the Tigers hoped would be a late July charge back into the thick of an AL playoff chase has gone in the opposite direction. With Tuesday's loss and a White Sox win in Boston, they fell a game behind Chicago and into fourth place in the division. Not since the Tigers' last-place finish in 2008 have they been in fourth in the division this late into a season.

They sit 13 1/2 games behind the first-place Royals. Their gap in the AL Wild Card race remains relatively reasonable at 4 1/2 games, but they now have four other teams between them and the Twins for the final spot.

The way they're playing, though, the rest of the league isn't the focus of Ausmus' concerns.

"We've just gotta win," he said. "I don't care who's behind us or in front of us. We need to win baseball games. If you don't win, none of that matters."

If the level of confidence was hard to pinpoint, the frustration level was not.

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"It's extremely frustrating," said starting pitcher David Price, who took Tuesday's loss with five runs on seven hits over six innings. "This team is better than this. Period."

Other than interviews, there was very little noise in the Tigers' clubhouse. Players who came out of the All-Star break focused on a resurgence sat in stunned silence and filed out in similar fashion. One night after the clubhouse remained closed for several minutes after the game, there was little to no wait about which to speculate.

"Obviously there's frustration," said Alex Avila. "We haven't played well on this road trip at all. We've won one game. So regardless of where you are in the standings, there's frustration about that. Quite frankly, that's the frustrating part

"The only way to combat that is to make sure you come in tomorrow and get prepared for the next day. You can't go home and try to figure out a magic formula. There is no magic formula. You have to come to work the next day and play your butt off and see what happens."

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