Tigers could make second-half run
Detroit takes 2 of 3 at Baltimore
Detroit's viability as a threat in the American League Central Division might be revealed over the next few weeks.
With Sunday's 4-0 shutout victory, the Tigers took two of three at Baltimore to start the traditional second half of the season.
"It doesn't get any easier," manager Jim Leyland said. "We go home to face the Angels, and the White Sox follow them in."
After that is a road trip to Cleveland, Toronto and Boston before coming home to host Cleveland. Then come sets against the New York Yankees and Texas.
But there is good news among the bad.
Detroit lost another starter, rookie Drew Smyly, but there seems to be some stabilization of the Tigers rotation and Leyland has been cheered recently by increased production from the bottom-five hitters in the batting order, who collectively were the worst in baseball for long stretches of games before the All-Star break.
"Our lineup is extending out like it has in past, has been doing recently and should continue to be," Leyland said.
"Anybody can get it done on any given day," leadoff man Austin Jackson said, "and I think we've been doing that. I think I've been doing my job, and that's getting on base."
Delmon Young recently hit home runs in four straight games and has been more of a threat hitting behind cleanup man Prince Fielder. The thinking is he's adjusted to being the full-time DH and the dual spotlight of going through the season after which he can become a free agent plus hitting behind Fielder.
Jhonny Peralta has been driving in runs the last month like he did for most of last season and Brennan Boesch has just begun to give Detroit sharp, productive at-bats.
It's a situation that may prompt Detroit, which has been ultra-patient with its slumping hitters (in part because it had no choice), to pass on making any dramatic roster moves as the no-waiver deadline of July 31 rolls around.
Leyland said he tries to stay out of that for the most part.
"I don't get involved in any of that stuff until he (GM Dave Dombrowski) comes to me and says, 'Would you do this for this?' The only information I've gotten from Dave so far is he's just trying to get a pulse on what's going on around baseball," Leyland said. "There's been nothing discussed with me or the staff other than that.
"I asked Dave if he thought there'd be movement, and he said, 'Well, I think everybody's just trying to get a pulse on what's going on.'"