The Tigers Back on Top in AL Central

Tigers Sweep Sox, Move to Top of Central

7/23/12 in MLB   |   Andrew_Ericksen   |   230 respect

July 22, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera (24) and first baseman Prince Fielder (28) celebrate their victory against the Chicago White Sox at Comerica Park. Detroit won 6-4. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIREThe Tigers couldn’t have asked much more of themselves in their seven-game home stand this past week.  Sure the 13-0 loss on Tuesday was a tough one to swallow, but apart from that, the Tigers went 6-0 against fellow playoff contenders Los Angeles and Chicago and – most importantly – moved into first place in the AL Central for the first time since May 1st.
 
With yesterday’s 6-4 victory, the Tigers have given themselves a 1.5 game lead on the Sox and a 4.5 game lead on the third place Indians, who they’ll face tomorrow.
 
The Tigers starters have combined for a 12-2 record so far this month and the team has held opponents to two or less runs in 9 of the 18 July games.  Porcello, Fister, and Scherzer are all coming off one of their strongest starts of the season while the ace of the rotation, Justin Verlander, has continued to baffle opposing hitters.
 
Jhonny Peralta and Brennan Boesch – who both really struggled in the first half of the season – have started to turn things around.  Peralta has raised his average from .257 to .271 in July, while Boesch has raised his from .231 to .254.  But it’s been the performances of the two superstars in the middle of the lineup that’s taken the team over the edge.
 
Prince Fielder has gotten a hit in 16 of the team’s 18 games in July, increasing his average on the year from .297 to .308.  He’s scored 11 runs, hit 3 home runs, and knocked in 16 RBIs.  And as impressive as these numbers are, they pale in comparison Cabrera’s.
 
July 1, 2012; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera (24) celebrates after they beat the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. The Tigers won 5-3.  Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIREYesterday, Cabrera became the 11th youngest player to hit 300 major league home runs, and the 14th player to hit 300 before his 30th birthday.  With hits in all but 3 of Detroit’s games in July (and a total of 2 runs, 2 walks, and 2 RBI’s in those 3 games), Cabrera has increased his average from .315 at the end of June to .330 – currently third best in the American League.  He’s scored 19 runs, hit 7 home runs, and batted in 17 RBIs in Detroit’s 18 July games.
 
Cabrera has now clearly put himself right at the top of AL MVP discussions.  Apart from leading the majors in RBIs, Cabrera is one of only two players in the majors hitting over .320 with over 20 home runs – NL MVP front-runner Andrew McCutchen being the other.
 
The Indians will have their chance to slow down the red-hot Tigers as they come into Cleveland tomorrow.  And with 4 straight losses going into their game tonight against the Orioles, it may be a now-or-next season type scenario for the now third-place Indians.  There might still be some pieces for the Tigers to go after before the trade deadline – a veteran starter or reliable second baseman specifically – but with a 14-4 record in July so far, Tigers fans have to like what they’re seeing.
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