Though the Detroit Tigers have struggled lately, they have a major opportunity to put some distance between them and the rest of the Central Division with a two week stretch of games involving all of their competition.
Despite the fact it's still early in the season, this stretch could mean a big deal to the Tigers, who could use it to pull away and extend a divisional lead that has been shrinking by the day. Just as quickly, the stretch could help sink Detroit further, and push them from the divisional lead.
June 10-12 at Chicago White Sox
2014 Record Against: 2-4
Player To Watch: Gordon Beckham, 2B. When Beckham came back against Detroit earlier this year, he did so with a bang. Since, he's been a hot hitter with a .298 batting average. After Monday night's win and another three hits, it's clear Beckham is poised to do damage this season against Detroit like he always does. Another big series from him would help set the table for all of Chicago's other weapons.
Series Storyline: Will Chicago Have A Better Offensive Showing? The Tigers beat the White Sox up a few weeks ago when they visited U.S. Cellular field for a short two game series. Not much has changed since for Chicago, who remains hanging around .500. Detroit meanwhile, has fallen back to the pack. Can the White Sox take advantage of this and find some clutch hitting that eluded them last time?
June 13-15 vs. Minnesota Twins
2014 Record Against: 3-2
Player To Watch: Josmil Pinto, C. The last time the Tigers and Twins met, Pinto was the one doing all of the damage, collecting two hits and scoring the clutch runs as Minnesota came back on Detroit late. Whether it's he or Kurt Suzuki behind the plate, Twins' catchers have made a habit of hurting Detroit pitching this season thus far. Though Pinto is only hitting .222, he has done some damage against the Tigers already.
Series Storyline: Can Detroit Win A Series Against Minnesota? This season, thus far, the answer to that question has been a resounding no. The Tigers split a shortened two game set in Minneapolis early in the year, then recently fell apart at home, losing two out of three to the Twins
June 16-19 vs. Kansas City Royals
2014 Record Against: 0-5
Player To Watch: Danny Duffy, SP. Last time out against Detroit, Kansas City's young hurler wasn't exactly bombed in the midst of a bullpen-driven 9-2 loss, but did take said loss after allowing one run in four innings pitched. Though he was pretty good against the Tigers, he'll have to be better on the road in order to help the Royals break through with a big win.
Series Storyline: What Does Kansas City Have To Do To Get A Win? If there's one team other than the Boston Red Sox that the Tigers have simply had the number of so far this season, it's the Royals. They've lost in every imaginable way against Detroit in close games and blowouts.
June 20-22 at Cleveland Indians
2014 Record Against: 4-1
Player To Watch: Michael Bourn, OF. Last time around, Bourn's speed and contact hitting aided Cleveland against Detroit, as the speedy outfielder collected six hits in the series at the top of the order. The Tigers must work to keep him off the bases, so the speed cannot take over and set the table for everyone else.
Series Storyline: Can Detroit Take Back The Momentum? Since the sweep of Detroit which seemed to change the game for both Cleveland and the Tigers, the Indians have put on a decent charge, coming back into the Central Division picture. The Tigers need to respond in a major way, so a better showing in Cleveland would certainly help restore some order perhaps.
Max DeMara is the editor of @tigers_101. Follow the site there on Twitter, or like it on Facebook to connect with him.Tags: Baseball, Detroit, Detroit Tigers, Gordon Beckham, Michael Bourn, MLB