By Ashley Dunkak
DETROIT (CBS DETROIT) – Torii Hunter has maintained throughout the season that his Detroit Tigers have not quite clicked, that the team is still not playing at its full potential.
In the last 10 games of its 11-game road trip, the Tigers provided a glimpse of what realizing that potential might look like.
During the road trip, Detroit won five straight, its longest win streak since the end of April. The pitching staff did what has come to be expected, allowing just two or fewer runs in three of the five contests.
The offense, though, was what really made an impression.
In short, the Tigers lineup finally did what everyone thought it was capable of – scored seven runs, six runs, 11 runs, seven runs and nine runs, respectively, in five straight games.
That kind of output is what fans, players and management expected to see all along from a lineup that includes Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Jhonny Peralta, Austin Jackson and the recently resurgent Victor Martinez.
That lineup was part of the reason Hunter came to the Tigers. He wants to win a World Series and believed that the team’s batting – in addition to enviably solid pitching – would help it get there.
Detroit has enjoyed excellent pitching throughout the season, but seeing solid performances on the mount combined with consistent production at the plate was a welcome sight for Tigers fans, particularly on the road.
Manager Jim Leyland mentioned earlier this season that the team struggled to score runs on road trips, but over their last 10 games, the Tigers have averaged 5.9 runs per game.
That rate of scoring is much higher than normal, as the Tigers’ overall average for runs scored on the road is 4.71 – and before the recent scoring spurt, it was 4.37.
In fact, the Tigers are scoring runs at a faster clip on this road trip than they usually do at Comerica Park, where they put up an average of 5.55 runs per game.
So far this season, Detroit has scored 233 runs at home and 212 runs on the road. While that is not a huge discrepancy, it looks like one compared with the consistency of the Tigers pitching, which has allowed 178 runs at home and 177 on the road.
A big factor in the ignition of Detroit’s offense has been Martinez. Through the first 76 games of the season, Martinez was hitting just .228 with a .286 on-base percentage after missing all of 2012 due to injury.
Over the last 10 games, Martinez’s batting average is over 100 points higher at .341. His on-base percentage rocketed to .400.
Martinez had hit .300 or better in six of the last seven seasons but had not looked like himself this year. If the road trip is an indication, he is back on track.
After a brief dalliance in second place, so are the Tigers.