Just in time for the All-Star break, which marks the half-way point of the MLB season, the Detroit Tigers have clawed their way back to an above-.500 record, which feels like much more of an accomplishment than it should, but things really do seem to be getting back to the way they should be. The team followed up its strong showing in interleague play by finishing the first half of the season having won five straight and seven of their last nine, earning a 44-42 record. The pitchers seem to be getting settled in (Scherzer leads the AL in some strikeout statistic I forgot, Phil Coke is a workhorse, and Justin Verlander’s done well enough to earn the starting spot for the AL All Stars), and odd-walking liability Delmon Young homered in each of the last four games. Brennan Boesch still is hitting below .250, but Jhonny Peralta seems to be coming on, and Quintin Berry is a joy to watch on the basepaths. Team-wide, defense remains a very frustrating problem, however.
The Tigers’ TV play-by-play man, Mario Impemba, offered his suggestions for the team’s continued success in the second half, and they included the following observation:
The second key is the two spot in the lineup. Quintin Berry has done a terrific job in the two-hole, but the return of Andy Dirks could help fuel the Tigers offense. Dirks was having a tremendous impact on the numbers that Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera were putting up. Below is a look at the numbers for the two sluggers with Dirks in and out of the lineup:
With Dirks batting second: With other hitters batting second
Cabrera: .344 AVG .392 OB% Cabrera: .318 AVG .384 OB%
Fielder: .365 AVG .411 OB% Fielder: .273 AVG .364 OB%
While Dirks is out of the walking boot and his achilles is feeling better, getting him back before August is not a good bet at this point.
Mario also tempered the optimism headed into the second half with this note:
The last week has given the Tigers hope that a second half run is on the horizon. The first three weeks following the break will be telling. Detroit will play 29 straight games against teams over .500.
Finally, Prince Fielder will be participating in tonight’s home run derby, as narrated by Chris Berman, and Detroit has to hope that this doesn’t mess up a good thing for the remainder of the season.
Interleague Play – 6/26
Call the Experts! – 5/26
Recipe for a Slumpbuster – 5/2
Delmon Young Swings and Misses – 4/30
Brennan Boesch’s Birthday – 4/12
Tigers open 2012 season with Sawks sweep – 4/9