DETROIT – The Detroit Tigers have finished back-to-back months with winning records.
That might not sound like a big deal, but it is. It’s huge. Any team can get hot and have one winning month. But for the Tigers to sustain success over an extended period of time -- that’s a major step in the right direction.
Detroit was 8-19 heading into May and managed to go 14-13. Then, with a doubleheader sweep Wednesday night in Cleveland, the Tigers finished June with an identical 14-13 record.
Even more impressive: May started with five losses in six games. Since then, the Tigers are 27-21 -- a winning percentage of .563.
This newfound resilience is something we haven’t seen from the Tigers in years. They won nine of 11 games after falling to a season-(and MLB-)worst 9-24. But then, they lost five of six and appeared to be spiraling down another dark path.
They responded by sweeping the New York Yankees. A week later, the Chicago White Sox won three of four, and the Tigers turned around to win a series against the Seattle Mariners.
From there, the Tigers lost three games, won three games, lost three games and won three more. Houston won the first of a four-game series 12-3, but the Tigers found a way to earn a split. Cleveland pounded the Tigers 13-5 on Monday, but the Tigers swept a doubleheader to leave Progressive Field victorious.
Over the last two months, every single time the Tigers have been knocked down, they’ve found a way to respond, even against the best teams in the league (except the White Sox, of course).
There’s still work to do heading into the All-Star break. Losing seven or eight out of 10 would erase all the good feelings from May and June.
But the fact that the Tigers have done more than stay afloat -- they’ve played WINNING baseball -- with a staff that includes Jose Urena, Wily Peralta and Matt Manning, who’s not quite ready, is encouraging.
Imagine if the Tigers can win five of their final 10 games before the break and then welcome Matt Boyd and Spencer Turnbull back into the starting rotation. Suddenly, with Boyd, Turnbull, Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal, they’d have a pretty solid starting rotation. The second half of the season could be pretty fun to watch.
What a relief to see the calendar turn to July without talks about next year’s draft position. We’re still entertained by this year’s team. That’s development. It’s hope. It’s optimism.
Most importantly, it’s progress.