Sunday, the Detroit Tigers finished off another up and down week with a ninth inning victory over the Minnesota Twins.
It was a style of win that's been few and far between this season. Outside of the first two games of the year (both walk off wins against Kansas City) and a ninth inning comeback against the Baltimore Orioles on the road courtesy of one Miguel Cabrera swing, the Tigers haven't been able to forge many late wins, especially at home with all of the chips down late.
With a Torii Hunter single, a misplayed ball in right field off the bat of Victor Martinez and a well-placed sacrifice fly from J.D. Martinez, all of that changed in a hurry. In the process, the Tigers got Joe Nathan a win, and prevailed in a series that they had to have against Central Division competition.
With the Royals coming to town for four games this week before a major road trip, there was no better way to get things started than a good old fashioned rally. After leading the game 2-0 and giving it up in the sixth to the tune of a 3-2 deficit, the Tigers managed to tie the game, then win, after looking like the walking dead in the seventh and eighth innings.
Finally, luck seems to be turning around for the Tigers, who saw some funny bounces go their way on Saturday and were the beneficiary of a key error late on Sunday. All of that can help take the pressure off a team who looks to press at times offensively, especially in the late innings
Perhaps now that they've put on a hitting clinic in one game and managed to scratch across a comeback win in the next, the pressure will subside and the Tigers can get down to business. They no longer have to answer questions about not being able to score in bunches, or usher in a comeback to win a closer game.
The best trait the Tigers found from 2006-2013 was their ability to consistently rally in the late innings. This season, even in the midst of Detroit's hot start, that seems to have gone missing a bit early in the year.
Fortunately, oftentimes, all it takes is one game for the team to remember.
Player Of The Week: Victor Martinez. The 35 year old shows no signs of slowing down, especially after putting the finishing touches on a week where he was only held hitless for one game. Over that same span, Martinez collected three multiple hit games, six RBI and two home runs while clubbing three doubles. All of those doubles could have left the yard if not for some weekend wind at Comerica Park. As long as Martinez continues to rake,
Play Of The Week: Eugenio Suarez snares a line drive (Saturday). Lost amid Suarez's wonderful hitting skills has been his ability to play plus defense. Saturday, Suarez made a beautiful trap on a ball hit quickly right at him. It's not easy to come into the big leagues and hit for power and average while holding up in the field. Credit Suarez for making just as many nice plays defensively early on as he has in the batters box.
The Challenge Ahead: Keeping good momentum alive. The Tigers have a two game winning streak, which is something they haven't seen much lately. The last time the team had a two game streak going, they were swatted away by David Ortiz and ended up taking some games on the chin. This week, the team has to continue the momentum in another important series.
Question For This Week: Is Kansas City ready for first place? The Royals are hot again after winning seven in a row which included a weekend sweep of the Chicago White Sox. Still, despite being only 1.5 games behind in the standings, they haven't beaten the Tigers yet this season (an ugly 0-5) and have sustained some tough losses against Detroit. Are the Royals ready to rise up and overtake the Tigers in the middle of June? If they play well, that could lead to some major confidence, but if they continue to lose, Kansas City's major comeback could go up in flames just as fast.
Max DeMara is the editor of @tigers_101. Follow the site there on Twitter, or like it on Facebook to connect with him.
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