I said before the Tigers return home we could learn a lot about them by the way they finish the month. Dropping two to the Twins and taking two of three from the Pirates was probably not how people saw the first five games of that. But it's a start. Now if the team can only get a winning streak going ...
Is it that hard to win two games in a row? This stat probably isn't new to you. The Tigers haven't won two games in a row since April 17-18. That was more than a month ago. How is it possible for a team that is supposedly as good as Detroit to go so long without two wins in a row? Maybe that the Tigers should be good is the only thing keeping them from falling into a lengthy losing streak instead. Who's to say? In any case, it's hard to call a stat like that a fluke. A fluke lasts a week or maybe two or three. More than a month becomes disconcerting. Detroit will have a chance to finally break out of the funk when the team travels to Cleveland for the start of an 10(!)-game road trip that also stops in Minnesota and Boston.
Are things starting to turn around? Patrick (Tigerdog1) will have more on this in a post later today, so check back in. The gist of it is, there are some positive signs for a couple of key hitters who haven't begun to hit. That's a good thing. Although fans this season have chosen one or two whipping boys, the team as a whole just hasn't gotten the job done. The No. 5 and 6 spots in the batting order have been especially bad, with the sixth lineup spot ranking last in the American League in OPS and the fifth second-to-last. When the Tigers lineup only goes four deep -- and with Austin Jackson injured, the leadoff not particularly good either -- it's easy to see why scoring has been an issue.
Despite everything, what a treat it is to be a Tigers fan. Fans expect the team to be better than a game under .500. That's completely fair. It should be. The team isn't playing up to anyone's expectations. Not the fans', not the players', not the manager's, not the general manager's, and certainly not the owner's. You'll find no argument on that point here. But I do hope everyone takes a moment to realize how spoiled in riches they are.
On Friday, Justin Verlander came within two outs of his third no hitter. It would have been a second no-hitter in as many years. And if you watched him closely in the past two seasons, you can predict with confidence he could get that next one on any given start. Those who suffered through the past 25 years know how lucky the Tigers are to have any pitching at all. But now they don't have just any pitching, they have a guy who might just be the best hurler in franchise history when his career is done. Truly it's the golden age in that regard.
Then you've got a player like Miguel Cabrera. At this point I think fans take "Miggy" for granted. He's going to be there in the middle of the lineup. He's going to hit for average. He's going to hit for power. He's already had some of the best offensive seasons in the history of the franchise, and he'll be around for several more years.
We're just getting to know Prince Fielder, and he hasn't quite lived up to expectations yet -- while hitting .301. If (or, really, let's just say "when") Fielder returns to expectations, the Tigers will have one of their best one-two punches in the middle of the lineup during most of our life times.
And then you've got Max Scherzer throwing for 15 strikeouts in a single game -- that's the most by a Tigers pitcher since 1972 and one short of the team record set in 1969 by Mickey Lolich. That's four decades. Or what about Austin Jackson, showing that not only is he one of the best fielding center fielders in the game, but he's quickly becoming a pretty good hitter, too.
So yeah, it could certainly be better. But if you can't step back and realize how lucky you are, then you've only got the franchise to thank for spoiling you wit riches. For most of my life, I'd have been happy with having any one of those players on the team. Now the Tigers have at least a half-dozen.