After a lackluster start to the season, it seems that Jim Leyland has the Tigers on track racking up victory after victory this week.
Playing the Twins lately can right the ship for a lot of teams. The golf ball sized hale that they encountered while in Minneapolis couldn’t deter the streak that they have accumulated. The Tigers put nineteen runs up on the board in those two mid-week games alone. The four game sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays about a week ago was also impressive since it was on the road.
Along with the Red Sox and Pirates, the Blue Jays are on the horizon once again. Inter-league play was a novelty when it first started, but now the aberration during the season when the two leagues collide really is inequitable. While the Pirates have exceeded expectations thus far, it isn’t really fair that the Tigers are fortunate enough to play them while another squad has to take on the Phillies. The only positive that comes from the second scenario is that ownership can plan on a bigger gate from the taking on the defending World Series participant.
Through thirty-nine games this season only two American League teams have scored more runs than the Tigers. You could probably guess that one of them is the New York Yankees, but the other is the Kansas City Royals. Too bad for the latter that the season is one hundred and sixty-two games. Their production obviously will not stand the test of time. The Tigers’ earned run average of around four and a quarter isn’t that impressive, but the staff has achieved two hundred seventy-six strikeouts. This ability to keep the ball out of play doesn’t allow pesky teams to move runners up with outs. It also takes away the possibility of errors being committed in the field. Opponents are only hitting a shade over .250 against the staff as a whole, but the Tigers are giving up more than three and a half walks per game. These free passes can lead to more base runners because they create holes in the infield if Miguel Cabrera has to hold on runners, and the middle infielders have to be positioned at double play depth. This leads to more base knocks in the holes between shortstop and third base. The same scenario is true for the other side of the infield. It also takes some of the pitcher’s attention away from the hitter. Pitching from the stretch is not allowing most pitchers to maximize their velocity.
Center fielder Austin Jackson has awoken during the recent portion of the schedule. His increased production has been one of the big differences during the recent stretch of success. Over the last week he has hit near .380 and has driven in eight runs. Much of this is due to the fact that five of his eleven hits have been for extra bases. His range in the outfield at Comerica Park was always there. Now Jackson is providing some punch at the plate as well.