The Tigers showed the ability to bounce back after an embarrassing 13-0 loss Tuesday to the heavy-hitting Angels by scoring a 7-2 win Wednesday. They proved that they can get it together late in a game, rally, and eek out a close one, evidenced by Monday's 8-6 win.
Whether the Tigers take three of four or split with Los Angeles will be determined Thursday. However, that's not the most important issue facing Detroit as of now. Getting even in the American League Central Division standings -- and eventually past -- the Chicago White Sox matters most.
As of Wednesday night, the Tigers (48-44) sat 2.5 games behind the White Sox and held a half-game lead over the third-place Cleveland Indians -- both teams the Tigers will face the next two series.
Seeing the Tigers find ways to win against Los Angeles has to be a positive for fans. It wasn't long ago that all was seemingly lost in the eyes of Tigers followers. The team was indeed hard to watch. Sure, the Tigers lost games they should have won and appeared lethargic most nights. But, for some reason, they have caught fire, winning eight of their past 10 -- and they're breathing down the White Sox's neck.
Look ahead to the White Sox
Ace Justin Verlander gets the start Friday. That's a good start to the series for Detroit. The 2011 AL MVP and Cy Young winner has held opposing hitters to a league-low .195 average. He's second in the majors (as of Wednesday night) with 136 strikeouts, four behind Seattle's "King" Felix Hernandez (140).
Does Verlander (10-5 in 2012) have an advantage over Chicago? The answer is a resounding "yes." The Tigers' top starter is 5-1 against the White Sox the past three seasons (2009-11) and carries a respectable 2.91 ERA and .233 OBA. Detroit will need a victory to get the ball rolling for Rick Porcello, who starts Game 2.
If Detroit plays the way it's been playing, it could find itself in first place, or tied for first, prior to playing the Indians in a series that starts Tuesday in Cleveland. Obviously, Porcello pitching Saturday in Game 2 could raise a few concerns. At times, he's been quite wild. However, he's 5-3 in his past seven starts and is 2-0 this year against Chicago.
Assuming Verlander does what he does, and the Tigers offense gives plenty of support Saturday to Porcello, the table could be set for a three-game sweep. But Turner is slated to start. And that could be a problem for Detroit, as the youngster gave up seven runs in two innings Tuesday to the Angels.
But there is a different spin that could be put on Turner's start -- for those looking for a bright side, of course.
If the Tigers enter with two wins, shouldering the responsibility of winning the series won't be there for Turner, who was recalled from Toledo this week after posting a 4-2 record and 3.16 ERA in 10 starts.
Less pressure, better pitching? More confidence? The mentioned scenario only applies if Detroit is up 2-0. The Tigers can't rely on Turner right now.
He has the talent to be a reliable pitcher one day, but he's not ready to be a starter. He could shake Tuesday's horrid outing by going four or five innings and setting the bullpen up for success.
It all sounds good, right?
Obviously, I've covered the best-case scenario for the Tigers. Verlander isn't as much of a sure win as he was in 2011, but he's still one of the best in the bigs. Predicting a win for him isn't illogical. Porcello, well, he's so hard to predict that it's almost a lost cause in doing so. But I have to believe that he's gaining confidence. His past handful of starts suggest as much.
The performances of Brennan Boesch and Delmon Young will be key factors, too. Young is riding a season-high 10-game hitting streak and Boesch is hitting doubles like a machine. Both bats are giving the Tigers offense an aggressive injection of power.
I'll explore other angles pertaining to the White Sox series once the Tigers-Angels series concludes. But, in the meantime, I'd like to know what you think -- what are your keys to victory against the White Sox? Leave your feedback in the comments section below.
Adam Biggers has followed Major League Baseball for over 20 years, specifically the Detroit Tigers. He can be found on Twitter @AdamBiggers81.