DETROIT -- When the Tigers were struggling earlier this season, one of the main issues was the club's inability to produce big hits in clutch situations. It wasn't the only issue, but one manager Jim Leyland noted many times.
But the Tigers finished Saturday's 7-1 win over the White Sox having won 12 of their last 14 games, standing a half-game above Chicago in the American League Central and seven games above .500 for the first time this season. And it's those big hits -- as well as some very good pitching -- that have resulted in the recent success.
Take both Friday night's 4-2 win and Saturday's victory as examples.
After ace Justin Verlander spotted the White Sox a two-run lead Friday on a second-inning home run from Alejandro De Aza, the Tigers' offense immediately provided some support. Off Jake Peavy, Detroit plated three runs to take the lead. All three runs came with two outs in the third.
Add in Austin Jackson's RBI knock for an insurance run in the seventh, and all four of the Tigers' runs came amid two-out rallies.
"Two-out hits the last couple weeks really are huge," said Verlander, who of course enjoyed receiving the run support. "They're a backbreaker for a pitcher. You hate to give up two-out RBIs, especially. We've been really good at that recently -- just guys not giving in."
The Tigers handed White Sox lefty Chris Sale his third loss of the season on Saturday, dinging him for five runs. All five -- plus two more in the eighth inning off Dylan Axelrod -- came with two outs.
In total, 35 of the 48 runs Detroit has scored since the All-Star break have come with two outs.
"There's a lot of things that come into play when things like that happen," Leyland said. "Sometimes it's just contagious. Guys get hot. The team gets hot. Guys are getting that big hit. That's the difference between winning and losing a lot of times."