Crazy, but Tigers should be better

By Rob Parker - Sports Columnist
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DETROIT - The Tigers did what they were supposed to do -- beat up on the hopeless Minnesota Twins.

Despite allowing the Twins to snap their 10-game losing streak in the previous game, the Tigers won 6-1 on Sunday afternoon to take three of four and are back to a season-high eight games over .500.

But you get the feeling that the Tigers should be better, a lot better by now.

Many picked the Tigers to win the American League Central easily and get to the World Series for a second straight year.

And, of course, it still could happen. There is plenty of baseball left to be played.

But this team is just 28-20, not even close to being the best team in the AL. In fact, when the day started, three teams had more wins than the Tigers did.

It just doesn't make sense when you think of what some of the Tigers are doing individually.

Miguel Cabrera is red-hot, making a serious threat to win back-to back Triple Crowns. He has a current 12-game win streak, batting at a .413 clip during the streak.

Starter and winner Max Scherzer allowed just three hits in six innings against the Twins to improve his record to 7-0.

Scherzer has now won each of his first seven decision to start the season, marking the longest streak to begin the season by a Tigers pitcher since Jeremy Bonderman won eight straight to begin the 2007 season.

Think about it: Scherzer could be the AL starting pitcher in the All-Star Game at Citi Field in New York in July.

Right now, at least, he's definitely in the running. When asked about it, Scherzer wasn't biting. ``C'mon,'' he said, never answering the question.

When asked if he ever thought about starting the All-Star Game when he was a kid growing up, he said, "Nope. Let's talk about Baltimore."

That's his next start.

Last season, Justin Verlander started the mid-summer classic in San Francisco. Manager Jim Leyland will be the AL skipper this year.

Leyland, as well, isn't into speculating about the game's starter, either.

To his credit, Leyland said before the season that the AL was going to be tough and that he would be surprised if any team ran away with its division.

Still, while the Tigers are where they are supposed to be -- in first place in the AL Central, a game and a half in front of the surprising Cleveland Indians -- it just didn't feel like the Tigers are winning like they should with a team loaded with hitting and pitching.

The Tigers lead the league in hitting with Cabrera and Prince Fielder knocking in runs on an incredible pace.

 The Tigers' pitching staff is ranked fifth in the league.

They have a wonderful rotation, granted Verlander has struggled recently. That's the biggest surprise of the season. JV, who starts today against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Comerica Park, has had three straight terrible starts, allowing 16 earned runs on 22 hits in just 12 2/3 innings of work. In four May starts, Verlander's ERA is a bloated 7.32.

 Still, four of their five starters have at least five victories so far. Verlander is 5-4.

Given that, you would think the Tigers would have a better record. In fact, based on their run differential, the Tigers expected record should be more like  31-17, neck-and-neck with the Texas Rangers, who currently have the best record in baseball.

 Obviously, there is no reason to panic. You just have to wonder if the Tigers will reach their full potential. It's not enough to make the playoffs again or even another trip to the Fall Classic.

This Tigers team, with huge stars and an even bigger payroll, is expected to win the World Series. Anything short of that will be a total disappointment.

For sure, some fans remember 2012 when the Tigers were very inconsistent and struggled until the final two weeks of the season and finally won the division from the Chicago White Sox. It took almost a complete collapse by the Sox to help the Tigers get the job done.

The Tigers shouldn't need help this season. They should be winning at a better rate by now.

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