Max Scherzer helped turn the Tigers fortunes when he allowed just three runs over five innings Sunday, the best start last weekend. (Tom Olmscheid / Associated Press)
Detroit — Did you hear the rooster crow?
Probably not, but their weekend barrage of hits marked the dawn of the awakened Tigers offense all the same.
One thing’s for sure: Winning the American League Central would be a lot easier if the Tigers hit like that compared to how they’ve hit during other, sometimes extended, stretches.
To go over it again, the Tigers bounced back from two lopsided, atrocious losses to the Twins by gaining a split of their four-game series in Minnesota.
They did it not so much with pitching — despite the fact Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer started the last two games — but with hitting.
From the fifth inning of Saturday’s night game of a doubleheader, the Tigers hitters didn’t just come alive, they started jitterbugging at a funeral.
Pounded the first two games, and down 4-2 after four innings of the third, the outlook was bleak.
That’s when the rooster crowed.
And it was time to rise and shine.
In the last 14 innings of the series, the Tigers scored 19 on 29 hits.
It wasn’t a case of everything “falling in” or “finding a hole,” either.
These were line drives, gap hits, deep hits — an impressive display that enabled manager Brad Ausmus to say the offense had “bubbled to the top.”
To be honest, though, the Twins series was a split of more than games. The Tigers had 60 hits, the most since the 60 they had against the White Sox in 1956.
But the Twins, for whom 60 were the most hits they’ve ever allowed in a four-game series, countered with 57, the most they’ve had in a four-gamer since 62 against the Royals in 2003.
It was not a weekend to be a pitcher.
But that’s what makes looking ahead a bit difficult on the Tigers’ behalf.
Would they have been pummeling any and all pitchers those 19 innings, signifying that such an onslaught might continue now that they’re home against the Yankees?
Or were the Twins arms just worn out?
To some extent, it was a case of the Tigers simply being overdue to bust loose. Remember what Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowski said in the aftermath of not signing Rusney Castillo last week?
“Sometimes the guys you have need to rise to the occasion,” he said. “It’s hard to find hitters right now. Our guys have to hit better.”
He was right. It is up to the hitters the Tigers have.
But they’ve been funk-prone.
Now they’re down to their final 33 games — the final 20 percent of the season — and the funks must stop.
Were the last 19 innings against the Twins an indication they will?
If you say yes, and the Tigers come out flat tonight against the Yankees, such a prediction would look silly. You’ll be hunted down on Twitter and told you were crazy for saying so.
If you say no and you’re wrong, however, the replies won’t vary extensively from “what the heck do you know?”
But the proof isn’t in the prediction, it’s in the performance.
And all Ausmus can say about the performance going forward is he believes the offense has the capability of being a strength.
What you’ve learned by now about the manager is he is not a drum-beater. He is a man of quiet confidence.
But he’s been a believer in the offense.
“All in all, we were having much better at-bats (in the Twins series),” he said. “We didn’t chase as many bad pitches. We’ve been kind of waiting for this for a while.
“I said a week ago, I said it multiple times, that the offense is better than what we are seeing. Everyone knew that in this clubhouse. We felt it should bubble to the surface. But it can never bubble to the surface quickly enough.”
Or last long enough, right?
“I’d love for it to be as good as this,” Ausmus said.
Of course he would.
But what kind of offense will show up against the Yankees? That’s the question.
Some time away from the funks would be nice
On deck: Yankees
Series: Three games, Tuesday-Thursday, Comerica Park, Detroit
First pitch: 7:08 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday; 1:08 Thursday
TV/radio: FSD, also ESPN on Wednesday, MLB Thursday/97.1, 1270
Series probables: Tuesday — RHP Brandon McCarthy (8-12, 4.01) vs. RHP Rick Porcello (14-8, 3.10); Wednesday — RHP Shane Greene (3-1, 3.17) vs. LHP David Price (12-9, 3.00); Thursday — RHP Hiroki Kuroda (9-8, 3.94) vs. LHP Kyle Lobstein (0-0, 4.76)
McCarthy, Yankees: In eight starts since being traded to New York from Arizona, he’s 5-2 with a 1.90 ERA. Blanked Houston on four hits in his last start.
Porcello, Tigers: He’s 6-4 with a 2.18 ERA in his last 12 games, 11 of them starts. In eight of those starts, he’s allowed fewer than two runs — including a three-hit shutout of Tampa Bay in his last start.