A week ago, the Tigers were going to run away with the Central again. This week, all is doom and gloom.
The truth, as always, lies somewhere in between. Coming off a 6-1 homestand that saw the Tigers take first place with a sweep of the White Sox, Detroit went on the road and lost two three-game series in Cleveland and Toronto. That moves them 1 12 games back of Chicago, who have been beating everyone other than the Tigers.
The problem, not for the first time this season, has been the offense. Detroit averaged just three runs per game in Ohio and Ontario, wasting a performance by Doug Fister that should have won them the series in Cleveland. The addition of Omar Infante, acquired along with Anibal Sanchez last Monday from the Marlins, was supposed to boost the offense and defense, but that hasn't happened yet.
The problem with getting Infante and Sanchez is that both players are going to have to make the difficult adjustment from the National League to the American League. Prince Fielder dealt with that earlier in the season, and one of the keys to Chicago's run has been Adam Dunn figuring out American League pitching. Infante hasn't played in the AL since 2007 and Sanchez had spent his whole career with the Marlins.
It might not take long -- they've only had a week -- but the Tigers need them to come through sooner rather than later.
Monday: No game. Tigers trade Jacob Turner and two minor-league prospects to Miami for Infante and Sanchez.
Tuesday: INDIANS 3, Tigers 2. Doug Fister pitched well, but the Tigers are unable to solve Ubaldo Jimenez. They do rally to tie the game off Joe Smith in the seventh inning, but Travis Hafner triples in the bottom of the inning and Aaron Cunningham lays down a perfect suicide squeeze for the winning run.
Wednesday: Tigers 5, INDIANS 3. Quintin Berry has three hits and drives in a pair of runs, while Max Scherzer strikes out eight in seven innings. Jose Valverde allows a one-out homer to Hafner in the ninth, but retires the other three batters without difficulty.
Thursday: INDIANS 5, Tigers 3. Justin Verlander cruises into the seventh inning with a 3-1 lead, then gives up four runs, including homers on his first two pitches of the inning. The pitches were both 93-mph fastballs up and over the plate, even through he had been throwing much faster in the sixth and again later in the seventh.
Friday: BLUE JAYS 8, Tigers 3. Rick Porcello struggles badly, allowing five runs in six innings, and Toronto sensation Carlos Villanueva improves to 6-0 by holding the Tigers to two runs on four hits in five innings.
Saturday: BLUE JAYS 5, Tigers 1. Anibal Sanchez makes his Tigers debut and it doesn't go well. He surrenders five extra-base hits, including three homers, while Detroit is no-hit over the last five innings.
Sunday: Tigers 4, BLUE JAYS 1. Fister and Jhonny Peralta save the week - one with eight strong innings and the other by breaking out of a lengthy slump with two homers. Peralta's teammates only manage three hits, but his home runs and 4 RBIs are more than enough for Fister.
Max Scherzer: In his last seven starts, Scherzer is 5-1 with a 2.54 ERA and 54 strikeouts in 46 innings. That has been key for the Tigers while Doug Fister has been pitching himself back into shape after early-season injuries.
Austin Jackson: Jackson played his usual spectacular defense last week while hitting .348 with a .464 on-base percentage. While the bottom of the batting order has struggled, Jackson has become exactly the lead-off hitter that Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder need.
Omar Infante: Infante's return to the Tigers wasn't as spectacular as fans had hoped, as he hit just .143 in his first week with one walk, no extra-base hits and as many errors as double plays.
Jhonny Peralta: The two homers on Sunday were certainly a positive, because they came after a five-game stretch where he went 0-17 and only reached base once.
Monday: Tigers (Max Scherzer) at Red Sox (Clay Buchholz), 7:10 p.m.
Tuesday: Tigers (Justin Verlander) at Red Sox (Josh Beckett), 7:10 p.m.
Wednesday: Tigers (Rick Porcello) at Red Sox (Aaron Cook), 7:10 p.m.
Thursday: No game.
Friday: Indians (Justin Masterson) at Tigers (Anibal Sanchez), 7:05 p.m.
Saturday: Indians (Ubaldo Jimenez) at Tigers (Doug Fister), 7:05 p.m.
Sunday: Indians (Derek Lowe) at Tigers (Scherzer), 1:05 p.m.