With a major league best 35-15 record in place, many felt that the true test of what the Tigers were really about was coming up in the form of series against the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox and Toronto Blue Jays. Once this stretch was over we would have a full view of this Detroit squad and see if they're were really contenders or pretenders. This set of games concluded yesterday, and overall it doesn't seem that we got too much out of it.
Yankees - Lost 3 of 4
Red Sox - Lost 2 of 3
White Sox - Lost 2 of 3
Blue Jays - Won 2 of 3
5-8 over the stretch and a record of 40-23. And better yet, the Tigers are still in first place by 1.5 games in the Central. It's still early though, and of course leads of 1.5 games are really nothing at this stage in the season. While the 5-8 record against these "quality" opponents doesn't look too great, it's the way that some of these were lost that makes it somewhat positive (I guess). The Tigers were in the driver's seat in the first game of the Red Sox series until a blown save by Jones in the ninth with 2 outs. They were winning the first game of the White Sox series until Alex Cintron (of all White Sox) hit a 3-run shot to take the lead in the eighth. Then the White Sox won another heartbreaker the following night by the same score, 4-3. Then, of course, came the bullpen implosion in Toronto in which a 5-2 lead turned into a 10-5 loss.
I'm not saying that this was a great series of games for the Tigers. All I'm saying is that this really did not prove to me one way the other whether or not this team is as good as their record indicates. The 1-5 record against the White Sox is not good. Losing 3 of 4 to a Yankees team that was decimated with injuries is not good. However, the Tigers did bounce back on some nights and find ways to win despite having no momentum on their side, which was a positive. Plus the White Sox did not capitalize on the Tigers rough time, which is another positive in a sense (we must find a way to start beating those guys though, they've got the Tigers number).
Now comes a stretch of games in which the Tigers take on the Devil Rays, Cubs, and Brewers. All teams with sub-.500 records. And as we have been saying all along in order to be a good team you have to beat up on the bad teams. This could be just as much of an indication as to the level of this team as the last 4 series were. Here's hoping to series wins in all of these and continuing to build momentum until the All-Star Break.