The Tigers opened a huge 4 games series versus the second place Twins in the Metrodome with a convincing 7-2 victory tonight. This series is the biggest of the year so far and probably the biggest since their late season collapse in 1988. The Tigers came into the series with a 4 game lead over the Twins meaning the Twins had a chance to tie them up with a sweep. The 4 game lead was the smallest margin since July 18th when they led the White Sox by 3 1/2 games. Adding to the urgency was the fact that the Tigers were in a 9-19 slump and had scored just 3.6 runs per game during that span.
Fortunately the Twins have also been struggling offensively averaging 2.7 runs a game over 10 games prior to this series. Justin Verlander took advantage of that with a solid 7 inning performance allowing 1 run on 8 hits. The only run scored on a solo homer by Michael Cuddyer in the 7th. Fernando Rodney pitched a perfect 8th and Todd Jones allowed an unearned run in the 9th.
On the offensive side, the Tigers touched up Scott Baker and Matt Guerrier for 12 hits including 4 home runs and 2 doubles. It all started when Curtis Ganderson homered to lead off the game. Marcus Thames, now the regular designated hitter after the release of Dmitri Young, hit a two run shot in the second to give them all the runs they would need. Thames now leads the team with 25 home runs in just 311 at bats. That's 1 homer per 12.4 at bats which is one of the top 10 ratios in the league for players with at least 300 at bats. Ivan Rodriguez and Omar Infante added solo blasts in the 7th and 9th innings repectively. Infante had 3 hits on the day.
It was a big game and the Tigers responded by dominating both offensively and defensively. It was the kind of victory that gets fans believing once again that they are headed for the playoffs rather than the collapse some have been talking about. With the White Sox 9-1 loss to the Indians tonight, the Tigers are now 5 games up on the Twins and 5 1/2 games up on the Sox with 21 games to go. Tiger fans can rest just a little easier tonight.