The Detroit Tigers entered the season with raised expectations.
A month into the season, they're simply trying to shed the status of the American League's worst team.
The Tigers will return home after coming up empty in a four-game series at Houston. They will play their next eight games in Detroit, including a rare five-game series against the Oakland A's that begins Monday night.
Overall, the Tigers have lost five straight to drop their record to 8-19.
"It's a long season," catcher/outfielder Eric Haase said. "You play 162 games, and we haven't even played 30 yet. But it doesn't make it any easier day to day. We are still showing up at the ballpark with energy every day and trying to play the best we can."
The Tigers were shut out by the Astros 5-0 on Sunday. During their slide, they have just eight runs.
"We just need to hit," Haase said. "I keep saying 'we're one hit away' for so long. You can only line out to people with runners in scoring position so many times before it starts going our way."
The only hit they had Sunday was Jonathan Schoop's double.
"We have a steep hill to climb. But you've got to take the first step," manager A.J. Hinch said. "We're going to continue to be positive with these guys. This game is built on so much failure, even when you are doing well."
They won't draw any sympathy from the A's, perhaps the only AL team going through a rougher time at the moment.
Oakland has lost nine straight, including 4-3 to the Minnesota Twins on Sunday. The A's went scoreless in the last six innings.
Oakland, too, has been dragged down by poor at-bats. The A's have just four runs in their last four games.
Among the 12 position players who have the most at-bats, only two are hitting above .225.
"We talked about the bullpen the Twins have ... they came in and shut us down and gave themselves a chance to win the game," A's manager Mark Kotsay said after Sunday's game. "We're getting guys on. We're just not getting guys in late in the game, and we've got to do a better job offensively at that."
Michael Pineda (1-1, 3.77 ERA) will make his fourth start of the season for Detroit. He's 4-1 with a 3.05 ERA in seven career starts against Oakland.
In his last outing on Wednesday, Pineda gave up two runs on four hits in 4 1/3 innings against Pittsburgh.
He'll be opposed by another right-hander, Paul Blackburn (3-0, 2.22). Blackburn gave up three runs on six hits in 4 1/3 innings against Tampa Bay in his last outing on Tuesday. He had four five-inning starts in April and only gave up three earned runs.
Blackburn, who has struck out 23 in 24 1/3 innings while issuing just three walks, has only pitched one inning of relief against the Tigers in his career.
The A's will play five games in Detroit because the clubs were supposed to play three in Oakland during the originally scheduled opening week. One of the games on Tuesday technically will be an A's home game. The other two makeup dates will be a doubleheader in Oakland in July.
--Field Level Media