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Leyland says Tigers are "taking what's there"

The Sports Xchange
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Two key items have figured into Detroit's surge to a commanding lead in the AL Central.

Their hitting has perked up quite a bit and a lot of that is due to more professional approaches by the players.

Coming back from deficits has played a role, too, and a lot of that has to do with superior bullpen performance.

Detroit's relievers put up four scoreless innings after the Tigers overcame a 4-0 first-inning deficit to take a 6-4 lead after the fourth.

The bullpen has posted a 2.19 ERA in 34 games dating back to Aug. 4. For the season, Detroit's bullpen has a 4.08 ERA. That doesn't stack up well with the league's best teams but the recent trend does.

"You can't keep starting out down 4-0," Jim Leyland said. "That will come back to bite you.

"We've done a good job coming back, but you can't keep up down 4-0."

The Tigers have markedly improved their situational awareness.

"I'd say that's true," Leyland said. "We've been pretty good at taking what's there. Our approaches have been better."

Second inning: Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez single. Alex Avila comes up, works the count to 3-2 then swats an outside pitch over the left field fence for his 18th home run. A 4-0 deficit is now a manageable 4-3 margin.

Fourth inning: Wilson Betemit triples in Avila, who was hit by a pitch, with one out to tie the score at 4-4. Minnesota moves its third baseman in to take away the squeeze. Ramon Santiago tried to slice the first pitch into the hole to left to get Betemit home, goes to 1-2 in the count and then yanks an inside fastball over the fence in right for a game-deciding two-run home run.

Detroit gets single runs in the fifth and eight, the bullpen puts up four zeroes and the Tigers saw a couple digits off their magic number (now 10 over Chicago).

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