Tigers slugger Victor Martinez has harsh words for team's offense

DETROIT -- Tigers veteran Victor Martinez had an unflinchingly honest assessment of the team's display Tuesday night.

Martinez, 37, gave credit where credit was due, tipping his cap to a phenomenal performance from Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Rich Hill, but he indicted his own team's meager display in a 5-1 loss.

"Bottom line: The guy threw good," he said. "We were horses--- as an offense."

Hill was tremendous in seven scoreless innings, giving up just four hits -- all singles -- no walks and striking out eight. However, the fact that Hill, a 36-year-old journeyman left-hander, managed to blank a right-handed-heavy lineup loaded with offensive All-Stars was a bit befuddling.

More concerning was that, save for Monday's performance, this has been a trend for the Tigers lately. Offensively, they are scuffling.

"We're not hitting," manager Brad Ausmus said when asked if he could pinpoint why the Tigers' bats were silent again. "That's my theory."

That's a stark reality for a team with as much depth and talent on offense as the Tigers. Heading into Tuesday's contest, they ranked 14th in the league in batting average, 15th in slugging percentage and 11th in hits. With starter Mike Pelfrey on the mound Tuesday, the team failed to give him a run for the fourth consecutive outing this season.

The Tigers (9-10) were shut out until a last gasp in the bottom of the ninth, when Martinez's two-out RBI double scored Ian Kinsler for a too-little-too-late rally that was easily stifled with J.D. Martinez's groundout to end the night.

Victor Martinez felt Hill was having trouble locating his fastball early in the game, but then began relying heavily on his curveball, which turned out to be devastating to the Tigers' lineup, particularly the first time through the order.

"He's sneaky," said Martinez, who was one of the few productive Tigers, recording his fifth multi-hit game of the season. "A very sneaky guy, a lefty that can change arm slots. He was able to throw his curveball for strikes when he wanted and later in the game he was mixing [in] his changeup."

The Tigers appeared due to fare better the second time through the order, putting forth better at-bats and getting some good contact on the ball, but still they came up empty. It was an exercise in futility, and one that has already become too familiar just 19 games into the season.

Miguel Cabrera snapped his slump Monday night with a pair of homers, but the Tigers are still waiting on left fielder Justin Upton to produce after signing him to a six-year, $132.75 million deal this winter. Upton had a spectacular home-run-saving catch at the wall in the third inning but could not match his defensive efforts at the plate.

After an 0-for-4 performance Tuesday, Upton has just one hit in the past seven games.

"I'm gonna hit," Upton said. "It's just a matter of time. It's just things aren't falling. I hit the ball hard tonight that didn't go my way. But at the same time, I gotta have better at-bats. Some of my at-bats haven't been very good, so at the end of the day if I put together four at-bats it's going to come."

One thing that seems to be missing from the Tigers' clubhouse right now?

"You gotta have a little fun out there," Upton said. "That's the only way to put it."

Right now, the Tigers' anemic offense has failed to bring much by way of smiles and laughter within the dugout, but Martinez insists the club will keep plugging away.

"We haven't been putting the whole act together," he said. "We keep fighting. That's something you're going to have for sure. We're gonna show up every day fighting and fighting. Someday, sooner or later, we're gonna turn this thing around."