And we're going streaking! No, this doesn't have anything to do with University of Michigan traditions. It's just a weekly occurrence for the Tigers, whose Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde ways certainly do leave fans wanting more -- and getting it a week later.
With Wednesday's victory, the Tigers won their fourth game in a row. And ninth game in a row against the Twins. (Admittedly, a depleted Twins team.) And they're 8-0 combined against the Twins and White Sox in 2011, too. And as Fox Sports Detroit pointed out, the Tigers have the best record in the American League since May 3. All those things should make us pretty happy, no?
Well, apparently, no. Not all of us anyway, as this week's confidence poll shows. We still have a sizable portion of people voting 0 or 10.
So this short-voting week we have a confidence score of 61. Then again maybe that does make sense after Detroit lost three of four to the Red Sox at Comerica Park and remain five games out of the first-place Indians.
But why do I have growing confidence again?
Joaquin Benoit seems to have found himself. David Purcey brings some experience to the bullpen. Al Alburquerque may allow a few too many walks but he makes up for it with an amazing slider and strikeout ability. Charlie Furbush seems to have made himself at home in the bullpen. In short, one of the key problem areas on this team seems to be settling in after a pretty major speed bump. Will it continue? Well, who knows. Bullpens are notoriously up and down. But Benoit's return to his early-season self certainly makes the team better.
Just to confirm this isn't a fluke, I did take a look at TexasLeaguers.com to see some of Benoit's recent outings, which included a pair of saves over the past 10 days or so. He has also had seven consecutive outings without allowing a run, dating back to May 20, during which he allowed just three hits and two walks while striking out six.
What I find is that Benoit's velocity on his four-seamer is up to nearly 94 miles per hour on average -- 93.9 mph to be exact. That is much more in line with the 94 or so he threw in 2010. He's thrown his changeup and slider about one third of the time, and at much slower velocities than earlier in the month of May. The breaking balls are diving faster, and hitting spots on the corners of the plate better. In other words, Benoit isn't getting some flukey results here. He's back to being the pitcher we expected him to be.
So with a bullpen finding its way, with a team that has been winning during the past month even while $10-million slugger Magglio Ordonez rests his ankle -- he may be back as early as Monday, reports say -- I am feeling pretty confident about this club.
Even if it does annoy me at times.