A five game winning streak pulled the club to within 3 ½ games of first place Chicago in the Central Division and with the second half beginning on Friday, there are several keys to a successful second half as I see it.
Jhonny Peralta, Delmon Young and Brennan Boesch combined to go 7-12 with 4 RBI’s today and that in itself is enough to make us think that the best is yet to come for three important cogs in the offense. It’s critical for Boesch, Young and Peralta to return to last season’s form.
Peralta is on pace for 35 fewer RBI’s than in 2011. Young had 44 RBI’s in the second half last year and another six in the post season, but his first half has been a combination of off-field turmoil and on-field struggles. Boesch has had a few big games, but has been far too inconsistent.
Yet, recent success has fans hoping the trio has turned the corner.
The second key is the two spot in the lineup. Quintin Berry has done a terrific job in the two-hole, but the return of Andy Dirks could help fuel the Tigers offense. Dirks was having a tremendous impact on the numbers that Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera were putting up. Below is a look at the numbers for the two sluggers with Dirks in and out of the lineup:
With Dirks batting second: With other hitters batting second:
Cabrera: .344 AVG .392 OB% Cabrera: .318 AVG .384 OB%
Fielder: .365 AVG .411 OB% Fielder: .273 AVG .364 OB%
While Dirks is out of the walking boot and his achilles is feeling better, getting him back before August is not a good bet at this point.
The Tigers also need to play better defense. That is easier said than done. To an extent, the Tigers are what they are, and what they have been is 10th in the American League in fielding percentage. The porous defense has led to 46 unearned runs for the Tigers pitching staff, but some of the errors have been the result of a lack of concentration.
The last week has given the Tigers hope that a second half run is on the horizon. The first three weeks following the break will be telling. Detroit will play 29 straight games against teams over .500.