Going into Monday’s game the Tigers have won 10 of 11 and pulled within 3 ½ games of first place Cleveland.
The division will likely come down to a three-team race. Chicago is too talented to keep at bay forever, Cleveland is doing it’s best to be the most shocking story in baseball and then there is our Tigers.
The bats are the biggest reason the Tigers have surged back. Victor Martinez has joined Magglio Ordonez and is giving Tiger fans an idea of Dave Dombrowski’s vision for what the 2011 Tigers would be. Alex Avila has been swinging a bat worthy of American League All-Star consideration – his 24 RBI’s leads all American League catchers. And Jhonny Peralta and Austin Jackson have heated up nicely of late.
But don’t discount the starting staff. Since May 3rd, Tigers starters have a combined ERA of 1.67. 1.67! Twice that would be acceptable.
The starters will come back to earth and when they do it’s important that arms from the bullpen regain form that they are capable of. Specifically Joaquin Benoit who has got to find a groove he lost from a year ago. Benoit’s ERA has ballooned to over 6.50. Not acceptable. Benoit’s struggles have hurt them too much – but he was not signed to “not-hurt” the Tigers, he was signed to win games. If this current hot streak is going to continue, it’s hard to imagine it happening without significant contributions from Benoit.