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Detroit Tigers Entering Critical Stretch That Could Define the Team's Season

Through 41 games this season, the Detroit Tigers are 20-21 and sit in third place of the American League Central, a half-game back of the Chicago White Sox and three games behind the first-place Cleveland Indians.

The Tigers haven't won back-to-back games in over a month, and are 4-6 in their last 10.

Time to panic, right?

Probably not.

Through 41 games last season, the Tigers were only 22-19 and stood 4.5 games behind Cleveland. The 2011 Tigers were under .500 after 51 games before making their run, finishing 95-67 and winning the division by 15 games.

The Tigers have suffered offensive anemia, mediocre pitching and defense, and a rash of subtle, but key injuries so far this season. But Detroit has managed to avoid a complete letdown.

The next few weeks will be critical for the Tigers' success moving forward. The team heads into a rough stretch, playing 22 games in 24 days (16 on the road), and has several moves to make in their attempt to construct a world championship puzzle.

Here are five things in the next few weeks, that will shape the rest of the Tigers' season.

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