DETROIT -

Yes, the Tigers are in first place.

On Thursday, they beat the Chicago White Sox, 7-4, at Comerica Park to earn a split in the four-series.

Still, it's hard to imagine that winning the American League Central will be a foregone conclusion as it basically has been the last three seasons.

Not only is the division much better, the Tigers aren't as good as they were a year ago - at least, on paper.

Nonetheless, the Tigers should be better than their 11-8 record after 19 games, especially when you look at the starting pitching they are getting this far.

Before Max Scherzer allowed just two earned runs in six innings of work to earn the victory over Chicago, the starters had an impressive 2.96 ERA - but a lousy 6-6 record.

"That's a nice feeling knowing we haven't played our best ball," said leftfielder Rajai Davis, who had a solo homer and three RBI on the day. "Yet, we're in a good position.

"I have a feeling we're going to make a run, we're going to be tough as the season goes on and we're going to get better."

That improvement needs to start with the bullpen that entered the game with a bloated 5.60 ERA. In three innings of relief Thursday, the pen gave up two runs on four hits.

The hitting has been very inconsistent, scoring two or less runs in eight of their first 16 games. In fact, coming into Thursday, they had the fourth-fewest RBI in the league.

And the fielding has been shoddy at times, too. They committed another error Thursday for their 15th of the season. Detroit is fifth-worst in catching the ball.

"That's baseball sometimes, especially at this level," Scherzer said. "You have to realize we're facing some good teams.

"There are just going to be times we're going to be inconsistent as a whole, different parts of the game, all three phases."

The Tigers' upcoming road trip might tell us a little bit more about this team. They head to Minnesota, Chicago and Kansas City for an eight-game road trip against all division rivals.

"It's going to be tough," centerfielder Austin Jackson said. "We've had a target on our backs for some years now.

"Every time, we're playing somebody in our division, it's going to be a tough game."

Open Letter to NBA Players

To: NBA Players

From: Rob Parker

Re: Increasing age limit

New NBA commissioner Adam Silver must be stopped.

His idea to increase the age for draft eligibility is just plain wrong.

Currently, a player must be 19 or one year removed from his high school graduating class to enter the draft.

Now, Silver wants to raise the age limit to 20.

In no other field would you stop a prodigy. Kids have played Carnegie Hall, graduated college at 10 and become a medical doctor at 17.