On a beautiful day in downtown Detroit, the Tigers showed that their funk might finally be over & the team can move on to better things. The Tigers completed a sweep of the Minnesota Twins, winning 6-3.
Justin Verlander recorded his 2,000th strikeout in his career – with Mickey Lolich being the only other Tiger to accomplish the feat. Most importantly, however, Verlander received run support & the team made sure JV got into the win column with more timely hitting, a theme that has been consistent since their series in Baltimore last weekend & carried over against the hapless Twins.
A big positive in this game & a reason Verlander was able to pitch relaxed and loose was Ian Kinsler hitting a homer for the 4th consecutive game. Kinsler is in a zone right now & to be honest, this is the best he has looked since his last days in Texas & his first season in Detroit. Kinsler seems to be seeing the pitches much better, being much more patient and now gives great protection in the lineup for Miguel Cabrera and J.D. Martinez to see much better pitches to drive.
The Tigers will have an off day today before a weekend series against the Tampa Bay Rays. An off day could be a good thing for the team as this is the first off day in two weeks for the team, but at the same time, the team is finally getting their groove & the worry is there that they may lose some of the momentum of being in a routine.
What did we learn from the Tigers sweeping the Minnesota Twins?
One of the biggest takeaways from the series against the Twins is that this team believes in manager Brad Ausmus. While Ausmus has clearly struggled in his first season & a half in Detroit, if the players did not believe in him & the future going forward with him at the helm, they would have dropped these games. Forget what you may see on the field at times, when a manager or a coach is wanted out, players figure out a way to send the message to upper management – loud and clear.
Another thing we learned is that the offense seems to be back in rhythm. Justin Upton, Miguel Cabrera, J.D. Martinez & Ian Kinsler were absolute monsters against Twins pitching all week long & are seeing pitches much better, along with taking more pitches in at bats. The offense looks much more relaxed and balanced than they did throughout the early part of the season & it will be interesting to see how that will translate into the weekend series against the Rays & towards the end of the month, a time when many teams (and fans) feel that they have a good idea of what their team is going to be in terms of being buyers or sellers at the trade deadline in July.
We also learned that Justin Verlander is back to his old form. Verlander has been dominant over his last 3 starts & as odd as it may seem, much of that could be that he has peace in his personal life. Recently, JV got engaged to beautiful model/actress Kate Upton, and the joke around Tigers fans was that Verlander was always distracted when Upton was around or at games. With much of that seemingly out of the way now, Justin has his future wife – and his game back to top form.