More than halfway through the 2020 condensed season, the Detroit Tigers might have to be taken seriously. They begin a two-game series at the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday on a hot streak.
Detroit, the majors’ worst team last season, has a .500 record (16-16) after winning five straight and seven of its past nine games. The Tigers swept a three-game series from the Minnesota Twins over the weekend and have won their past three series.
With the playoffs expanded to 16 teams, the Tigers have a shot at a wild-card slot despite sitting in fourth place in the American League Central.
“I’ve been saying that and people laughed at me,” manager Ron Gardenhire said, according to the Detroit News, about challenging for a playoff spot. “Now everybody wants to talk about it. But I’ve said it the whole time. Anything can happen in this short season. And there’s a lot of openings in this thing. As long as we keep playing like we have, we have a shot.”
Jeimer Candelario blasted the tying homer against the Twins on Sunday and Jonathan Schoop supplied a go-ahead homer. Miguel Cabrera has a seven-game hitting streak with nine RBIs during that span.
“We’ve got some people doing some pretty good things on offense,” Gardenhire said. “That’s what it takes to win, you’ve got to have multiple people doing some things right.”
Right-hander Michael Fulmer (0-0, 8.79 ERA) will start on Tuesday with left-hander Daniel Norris likely to follow him. Fulmer has been on a three-inning limit after missing last season with Tommy John surgery.
In his last outing on Wednesday, Fulmer gave up two runs on three hits in three innings against the Chicago Cubs. He has never faced the Brewers in his four-year career.
Milwaukee right-hander Josh Lindblom (1-2, 6.31 ERA) will make his seventh start this season. He has lost his last two outings, most recently when he yielded two runs on three hits in four innings against the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday. Lindblom has never faced the Tigers.
The Brewers made one deal prior to Monday’s trade deadline, sending right-hander David Phelps to Philadelphia for three prospects.
According to manager Craig Counsell, it’s not a sign the team is waving the white flag.
“You lose players at times. Guys get hurt. Guys get traded,” he said Monday afternoon. “That doesn’t stop you from trying to win the baseball game that day. We’re sitting a game out of the playoffs right now. We know we have to play better to get there, but we’re not in a bad position at all. We feel like it’s in front of us.”
Milwaukee (16-18) has won three of its last four games. The Brewers hung on for a 6-5 victory over Pittsburgh on Monday as Josh Hader collected his eighth save.
Their top offensive player, Christian Yelich, is still struggling at the plate. He’s batting .197 with eight homers and 16 RBIs. Collectively, the Brewers rank last in the majors in batting average.
–Field Level Media