After significantly increasing their division lead by sweeping consecutive series from their two closest pursuers, the Detroit Tigers are not about to take the team at the bottom of the AL Central for granted.
The Tigers try to match their season high with a seventh straight victory Friday night against the Minnesota Twins at Comerica Park.
Detroit (81-62) averaged 9.5 runs and 13.8 hits while sweeping back-to-back, three-game sets from Chicago and Cleveland. The Tigers have won 16 of 20 and are in good position to win their first division title since 1987.
Despite the Tigers’ current surge and sizable division lead, they are not ready to start thinking about the postseason.
Even against the Twins (59-84), who won’t win a third straight Central title and will play the final few weeks with a roster filled with prospects.
“So far we’ve met a head-on challenge pretty good, but get ready to play Friday because nobody is going to give us anything,” said Tigers manager Jim Leyland, whose team is 11-4 against the Twins this year.
Victor Martinez(notes) has keyed Detroit’s hot streak, going 10 for 21 with two homers and 12 RBIs in his last five games. His three-run homer highlighted a five-run seventh inning Wednesday. Martinez has hit .426 with three home runs and 19 RBIs versus Minnesota this year.
Miguel Cabrera(notes) will look to set a Tigers record for the most consecutive games reaching base. He’s done it in a career-high 34 straight, tying Damion Easley’s club mark, and is batting .391 with 27 RBIs during that stretch. He’s hit .396 with three homers and 14 RBIs versus Minnesota in 2011.
He’s also been roughed up in his last two outings overall, giving up 15 runs and five homers in 10 innings while going 0-1. The right-hander surrendered eight runs - four earned - and three homers in five innings of a 9-8 win over the White Sox on Saturday.
Danny Valencia(notes), 4 for 11 with two doubles and a home run against Penny, ended Minnesota’s 20-inning scoreless streak with a two-run single in a 5-4 win over Chicago on Wednesday. The Twins snapped a five-game skid.
Scheduled starter Kevin Slowey(notes) (0-4, 5.31), who missed two months with an abdominal strain, has dropped four straight starts since being recalled from the minors. However, his teammates have totaled three runs in those games.
The right-hander has allowed two runs in seven innings in each of his last two starts, most recently in a 4-1 loss at Los Angeles on Sunday.
“I’m definitely making progress,” Slowey told the Twins’ official website. “I’m starting to get my rhythm back down.”
Though Slowey has a 5.20 ERA in seven starts versus Detroit, he’s 5-0 in those outings.