Up-and-down Tigers get within one

The Tigers can be a confounding team.

Fans go through the entire gamut of emotions while watching a game.

When White Sox starter Gavin Floyd, just off the disabled list, is striking out five batters in the first three innings, fans are hopeless.

When Kevin Youkilis breaks up Max Scherzer’s scoreless streak in the fourth inning with a solo home run, they’re devastated.

When the Tigers take a 3-1 lead in the top of the fifth, they’re feeling hopeful, even cheerful.

When Prince Fielder snaps an 0-for-18 skid with a three-run bomb in the seventh, the fans are deliriously happy.

“I was trying to get a ball I could hit hard,” Fielder told FOX Sports Detroit’s Trevor Thompson on the field after the game. “I got lucky and I hit it hard.”

When Alex Avila and Austin Jackson hit RBI doubles in the top of the eighth, the fans are nearly ready to celebrate.

But then the mood turns.

When young reliever Brayan Villarreal walks two batters in the bottom of the eighth and Joaquin Benoit can’t get out of it without giving up an RBI single and a three-run home run (Youkilis again) as the gap closes to 8-5, the fans begin to freak out.

“Villarreal lost his concentration a little bit,” manager Jim Leyland told Thompson on the postgame show. “He was throwing the ball great, but you see what happens here.

“You can’t walk people in this ballpark. Walks got us in trouble, and of course, they got the home run from Youkilis, the second home run. It got pretty hairy there for a while.”

When Jose Valverde gives up another run in the ninth, the fans are in full-blown panic mode.

“Once again, September baseball,” Leyland said. “They’re not going to quit, that’s for sure. You see it’s a home-run park, no lead is safe, with either team here.

“We’re capable of hitting them over the fence and so are they, obviously. You don’t really feel comfortable with any lead here.”

When Valverde gets out of it to record his 30th save for an 8-6 victory and the Tigers close to one game back of the White Sox in the Central Division, it’s party time!

“When you’re getting good pitching performances like we’ve been and we’re able to kind of score some runs and break it open a little bit, it’s definitely a good feeling,” Avila told Thompson. “I’ll be honest with you, it’s probably not going to happen a lot this month and if we get into the playoffs.

“That’s just the way this game is at this time of the year.”

As they say, that’s baseball. And especially, that’s September baseball.

Tigers fans might not enjoy every moment, but Scherzer, who won his career-high 16th game, is having the time of his life.

“This was going to be the biggest start of the season for me, and I wanted to go out there and give the team a chance to win,” Scherzer told Thompson. “I love being in this situation. This is where I want to be.

“I want to have all the marbles on the line, in a pennant race, where these games mean everything.

“I love having the ball in this situation. This is going to be a tight race throughout. I think I’ve got four more starts left and I’m looking to toe the rubber every single time.”

When the Tigers lost the first game of the four-game series to fall three games back, the fans felt their team was doomed.

But the Tigers never feel that way because they have some control over what happens, unlike the fans.

“I love our Tiger fans, but at the same time, no one in this clubhouse pushed the panic button,” Scherzer said. “We all believed in each other. We know how good this team can be and we know how well we can compete in the American League.

“We believe we can beat anybody in the American League if we go out there and play our best ball. Obviously, we have that type of confidence no matter what the record, what the situation is. We believe for the remainder of the season that we can be the best team.”