What went wrong in Tigers' ugly series against the Rays?

Tigers suffer three-game sweep in Tampa Bay

Daniel Norris and Alex Avila collide and drop a popup against the Rays (Brian Blanco/Getty Images).
Daniel Norris and Alex Avila collide and drop a popup against the Rays (Brian Blanco/Getty Images).

TAMPA BAY, Fla. – Whew, the Tigers sure are glad to leave Tampa Bay.

After a disastrous ending to Wednesday night's game, fans woke up Thursday hoping the series finale would assuage their concerns (because it couldn't possibly go anywhere but up from there, right?).

Well, the Tigers dropped another bomb (and a fair number of fly balls, too) en route to an 8-1 loss. The Rays came into the series having lost six of their last seven games, but they sent the Tigers packing with their tails between their legs.

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Yes, it was ugly. And disturbing. And borderline offensive. You could use a number of negative adjectives to describe what happened to the Tigers at Tropicana Field.

Let's start with the defense. Manager Brad Ausmus didn't mince his words after Thursday's loss, saying his team's defensive performance in Tampa Bay was the worst he's seen since he came to Detroit.

MORERanking the Tigers' starting pitchers through 3 starts

Tyler Collins was the most obvious offender. His miscommunication Wednesday with JaCoby Jones in right-center field gave the Rays a leadoff double in the first inning. On Thursday, he misplayed a ball in the corner to give the Rays another leadoff double.

There was also a botched double play Wednesday that gave the Rays a walkoff win when it looked like the Tigers would escape with a victory. To add injury to insult, Iglesias was hurt during the play.

Heck, Daniel Norris and Alex Avila even had a Bad News Bears-esque moment when they collided on a popup that had radio announcer Dan Dickerson audibly slamming his hand on the table.

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On offense, the Tigers mustered only one run apiece in games started by Matt Andriese and Erasmo Ramirez. The Tigers scored seven runs Wednesday, but Jordan Zimmermann allowed five runs on 10 hits and the bullpen imploded in the late innings.

When one thing was working, something else wasn't. That's what happens during baseball slumps.

The Tigers are unlikely to play a series as ugly as this one the rest of the season, so fans shouldn't overreact to three games out of 162. That being said, every single game matters for a team that hopes to be competing for a wildcard spot at the end of the summer, so the Tigers can't afford to let the slump drag on any longer.