Here come the Tigers, now just 2 games out of first place in the American League Central

If you’ve been waiting for the Tigers to make their move, wait no more. Austin Jackson’s return from the disabled list has been the catalyst they’ve been looking for. They’re 7-2 and have cut the deficit in the American League Central from 6 games to 2. His defense in center is terrific. His OBP is above .400. He has four doubles and two home runs in nine games. To have him on base in front of Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder transforms an offense that has been nothing special.

Meanwhile, the starters are 5-0 with a 3.25 during this 7-2 run. Those numbers include 19 walks and 58 strikeouts in 52 2/3 innings. Relieavers have a 2.12 ERA since May 17. Isn’t this the team we expected to see?

So much was expected of the Tigers that it was difficult to be patient. The Angels were the same way. We expected them to sprint out of the gate and fly high from start to finish. And there was a time when it looked like it might not happen. It’s incredible to look back and attempt to understand the things that can transform a team.

But then one day we look up and there has been a string of solid pitching performances and an offense that was supposed to be pretty good is just that. In a long season, contending teams end up getting contributions from places they didn’t expect. But those contributions are critical. For instance, Quintin Berry had a career-high five hits Sunday against the Rockies. He’s the fifth Tigers rookie in  80 years to have a be perfect with the plate with five or more hits.

Speaking of Fielder, he’s hitting .358  with 12 doubles, a triple, five home runs and 28 RBI over his last 33 games. He’s sixth in the AL with a .390 OBP. Cabrera has been outstanding as well, ranked in the Top 10 in the AL in home runs (10th), RBI (second), hits (second), OPS (ninth).

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