How long has it been since the Tigers had a share of First Place in the American League Central Division? A long time. July of last season, to be exact. It’s been a long, steady climb, with the Tigers winning 10 out of their last 14, while the Indians have been fading fast, dropping ten out of their last 14.
The Tigers had a chance to move a game ahead of Cleveland, and claim sole possession of first place on Sunday. But after getting an early lead on “King” Felix Hernandez, Rick Porcello and the bullpen couldn’t make it hold up, losing 7 to 3. The Tigers wound up splitting their four game series with the Mariners, which isn’t too bad considering Seattle has one of the best pitching staffs in baseball. All five of their starters have ERA’s under 4.00, a pretty impressive feat these days.
What’s most impressive about the Tigers’ recent surge is that they have been winning without a regular 2nd baseman, third baseman, and corner outfielder. 2nd base remains a big question mark, which still makes me wonder why the Tigers were so quick to dump Scott Sizemore without any real replacement to take over that position. The Tigers were apparently hoping Ryan Rayburn could handle the job, but after striking out three straight times on Friday night, Jim Leyland may have finally run out of patience with him. That leaves Danny Worth and Ramon Santiago, and I think Santiago gives the Tigers the best combination of defense and hitting, at least until they can make a trade.
Magglio Ordonez is finally back with the Tigers, and let’s hope he’s healthy and ready to play on a regular basis again. He hit a couple of homers in last two games in his rehab assignment in Toledo. Of course that’s Triple A pitching, not major leagues. But The Tigers need his bat in the lineup. Even if it’s not the 2006 model of Magglio, it would be nice if Maggs still has some magic left in his bat.