Detroit Tigers 2nd Half Slump About to Ensue, or Is It?

Christopher CzarContributor IJuly 17, 2011

DETROIT - JULY 17: Carlos Guillen #9 of the Detroit Tigers flips the ball over to Jhonny Peralta #27 and turns a double play in the fifth inning of the game against the Chicago White Sox at Comerica Park on July 17, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers defeated the White Soc 4-3. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images

In typical second-half fashion, the Detroit Tigers were thoroughly embarrassed by the Chicago White Sox in the opening two games of their first series after the All-Star Break.

On Friday, Tigers Ace Justin Verlander was pounded by the light-hitting White Sox.

On Saturday, Jim Leyland was outmanaged by his South Side counterpart as the White Sox ran at will against the Tigers, took an aggressive approach at the plate and played stellar defense.

Sunday didn't start too well either.

Brad Penny was torched for three runs and four hits through two innings, Brennan Boesch's second half got off to an eerily similar start as his 2010 second half (0-10), Magglio Ordonez showed little in the first two-and-a-half games, Carlos Guillen failed to provide anything in his return to the lineup and free-agent prize Victor Martinez seemed to have hit into his double play quota for the entire second half.

"Uh Oh, here we go again".

Just as they were about to borrow a title from their pigskin brethren across the street and be dubbed the "Same Old Tigers," something strange happened. 

They played like a team in the playoff chase and rallied to beat the White Sox, undoubtedly warding off—for at least a day—the "second half collapse" talk and causing me to change the tune of this article.

When it seemed like another disappointing loss, here was Penny buckling down and shutting off the White Sox for the next five innings, and here's Boesch hitting a towering home run to right field after failing to make contact all weekend, Maggs roping a rare double and beating out a rally killing double play, Guillen (reminding Tigers fans what it's like to have a second baseman with range) turning a spectacular double play and Victor Martinez coming up with a key two-out, two-run single to get the Tigers back in the game.

Give Jim Leyland credit.  He coached aggressively.  He ran Maggs on that 3-2 count keeping a soon-to-be-productive inning alive.  He stuck with Penny long enough to get the Tigers back in the game and then pulled him at the right time to watch Al Albuquerque kill a White Sox rally. 

Now it's just one win. Friday and Saturday looked all too familiar, but at least we know now that they're capable of playing the way they'll need to, to win the division.