Monday, Jun 25, 2018
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Tigers falter as All-Stars, but won't for season

PITTSBURGH - There was nothing terrific about the Detroit Tigers' trio of All-Star representatives.

Kenny Rogers, Ivan Rodriguez and Magglio Ordonez all fizzled in the league's showcase game at jam-packed PNC Park.

Yet the American League still continued its decade of dominance, beating the National League 3-2 in dramatic fashion on Michael Young's two-out, two-run triple in the ninth inning.

Rogers, the first Tigers left-hander to start the All-Star Game since Hal Newhouser in 1947, allowed three hits in two innings, including a solo homer to rookie David Wright in the second.

Rodriguez, making his major league-record 11th start behind the plate, went 0-for-2 and allowed two stolen bases in the same inning.

And Ordonez struck out swinging while pinch-hitting for Rogers in the third.

"We didn't do great, but we won the game and that's the important thing," Rodriguez said. "We'll enjoy the day off [today] and then we'll get ready to start the second half of our season."

The Tigers (59-29) had the best record in baseball at the All-Star break, to go along with a .670 winning percentage.

They are 30 games above .500, one year after finishing 20 games under the mark at 71-91.

It would take a monumental collapse in the second half for Jim Leyland's bunch not to make the playoffs.

The teams with the best re-cords at the All-Star break the last three seasons all qualified for postseason play, including the White Sox (57-29) last year, the New York Yankees (55-31) in 2004 and the Atlanta Braves (61-32) in 2003.

Perhaps that's a good omen for the Tigers, who haven't so much as had a sniff of the playoffs since 1987.

The Tigers are legitimate contenders, not pretenders. They aren't going to fold in the second half, according to White Sox All-Star slugger Paul Konerko.

"The people who are saying that are the same people who were saying that about us last year, and we won the World Series," Konerko said.

"The Tigers aren't going anywhere. They're not going away. They're a good team."

The Tigers are confident they can make the playoffs, even though they are just 1-5 against the White Sox, who trail them by two games in the AL Central standings.

"I think we'll be OK in the second half," Ordonez said. "We just have to keep playing good baseball and doing what we have been doing. It's too early to be thinking about the playoffs. There's a lot of baseball to go, a lot of difficult games ahead.

"But Jim Leyland will keep us focused and make sure we're doing the job. He's had a lot to do with our success so far. He's a winner. He's a great manager. He's made baseball fun again for us."

Pitching has been the key for Detroit.

The Tigers lead the league in ERA (3.46), shutouts (11) and saves (32). Rogers is tied for second in the league with 11 victories and Justin Verlander is tops among rookies with 10 wins.

Meanwhile, the White Sox finished the first half with a 57-31 record and ranked as the highest-scoring team in the big leagues.

"What Detroit has done has really been impressive," Konerko said. "They have opened a lot of people's eyes, not just mine."

Detroit will begin a 10-game homestand tomorrow with a four-game series against Kansas City. It's the Tigers' chance to make hay, given that they are

8-0 against the Royals this season.

After that, Konerko and the White Sox come to town for three games, followed by the Oakland Athletics.

It's a tough stretch to start the second half, but don't look for the Tigers to back down. Rogers, Rodriguez and Ordonez still have plenty of roar left.

Contact Blade columnist

Ron Musselman at:

or 419-724-6474.

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