Tigers’ offense clicks in 8-6 win over White Sox

DETROIT — What the Detroit Tigers displayed on a cool, windy Tuesday night at Comerica Park was an all-around attack that will make the rest of the American League take notice.

The 8-6 victory over the Chicago White Sox was the first of its kind this season. The power of Miguel Cabrera kicked in behind the speed of Rajai Davis, Ian Kinsler and Andrew Romine.

And when Justin Verlander mowed down the White Sox, allowing two runs with seven strikeouts in seven innings, it was the perfect recipe for success.

All-Star infield practice

"That’s nice," Cabrera said. "That’s what we’ve wanted to do, to put a rally like that together. Now, hopefully, we can go out and do our jobs every night."

Cabrera entered the game batting .206 with only one homer and seven RBIs after 16 games. But he drove a two-run homer to right field, and laced a run-scoring double to right-center.

That doubled his opposite-field hits for the season, and prompted him rediscovering his groove. He later added a single to center to fall a triple shy of batting for the cycle and raise his batting average to .235.

Toss in the facts that Romine is beginning to look very capable of holding down the shortstop spot and that catcher Alex Avila had a three-hit night, and the Tigers are showing their first signs of having a formidable top-to-bottom lineup.

"We have not tapped into our complete potential yet," Avila said. "We do not know how good we are yet. But by having tough at-bats from the top to the bottom of the order, you see what you can be. Tonight was a fun night."

That Detroit was in first place in the Central Division basically without Cabrera said so much about what Davis and Kinsler mean to this team. They are the keys to more success in the postseason than the Tigers have achieved since becoming viable contenders back in 2006.

When great pitching checks the power game Detroit has relied upon, it can now manufacture runs and pull out wins.

"I liked that we manufactured runs," Verlander said. "That’s a huge factor in the playoffs."

It all came together in the third inning, when Romine led off and beat out an infield single. Then Davis singled to left, and Romine — with a great secondary lead and no hesitation — raced from first to third.

Kinsler lined a double to left to score two runs, but how Davis scored was so telling. Third base coach Dave Clark never hesitated to send Davis home, and for good reason. He scored standing up on a hit that very few could’ve scored on from first base.

"It was like a merry-go-round out there," Romine said. "It was awesome, and that’s exactly what happens when you get guys who can run. It brings a whole different aspect to the team."

The six hits in the third were the most by the Tigers in any inning this season, and the seven doubles were the most in one game since exactly four years ago, on April 22, 2010, against the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim.

"We had the one big inning and it helped," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "We haven’t had many innings like that."

Detroit was last in the majors with 35 steals last season, but adding Davis and Kinsler has brought them to life on the bases. The Tigers already have 17 stolen bases and rank third in the league in that category. Davis, with seven steals, is fourth in the league.

Getting Romine and Avila going is important to avoiding offensive lulls.

Romine is stinging the ball on this home stand, going 6-for-14 to raise his batting average to .269. He’s also walked six times for a .406 on-base percentage that’s the best of any regular on the team. He’s strong defensively, and if he can continue being a factor with the bat, it will squash the rumors that Detroit will sign free-agent shortstop Stephen Drew in June.

Avila had been hitting below the Mendoza Line since April 2 but is finally over .200 at .227. He hit a pair of opposite-field singles before beating an exaggerated shift for a double he pulled through an eye-of-the-needle hole between first and second. After striking out an alarming 21 times in 36 at-bats, Avila has gone two nights with nary a whiff and totaled four hits.

It all came together for the Tigers, who now — like Cabrera noted — must show consistent firepower.

"Can you imagine when the whole thing gets going together?" asked Romine.

He slapped his hands together, smiled and added, "It’s going to be a blast."