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The Tigers took two of three from the White Sox, improve to 10-2 on the season.

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Detroit โ€” Last season, the Tigers had one of the most formidable pitching staffs in the American League. They tied the Orioles and Angels for most wins (68) by starting pitchers.

The quintet of Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello, Anibal Sanchez and Drew Smyly was regarded as one of the best in the American League.

A series of trades and Scherzer's notable free-agent departure have changed the appearance of the Tigers' starting rotation for this season, with David Price, Sanchez, Shane Greene, Alfredo Simon and Kyle Lobstein comprising the early rotation as Verlander recovers from injury issues.

With plenty of question marks surrounding the rotation, they've responded with a resounding streak of starts in the first 12 games that has buoyed the Tigers to a best-in-the-Majors 10-2 opening to the season.

While Price's production wasn't much of a question, Greene has been one of the most surprising finds, with a 3-0 start. His streak of 21.2 innings ended in the sixth inning, after putting the clamps on the White Sox in a 9-1 win on Sunday afternoon at Comerica Park.

The first three starts, I don't think I expected him to be this efficient and throw this many strikes," manager Brad Ausmus said. "I didn't realize he was going to be able to pound the strike zone the way he has so far โ€” and I hope it continues."

After each of the Tigers' first two losses, Greene has been the stopper with back-to-back solid starts. Following the Tigers' first loss of the season, Greene tossed eight shutout innings Tuesday against the Pirates and followed Saturday's 12-3 loss to the White Sox by allowing just one run Sunday on a single by Melky Cabrera and a triple by Jose Abreu.

Greene became the first Tigers pitcher since Jack Morris in 1984 to throw seven or more innings and allow one earned run or less in each of his first three starts.

It's just three starts, but Ausmus is happy with the production from the new acquisitions that have helped solidify what was thought to be a shaky rotation.

Simon and Greene have combined for five wins and have taken some of the glare off Sanchez's early troubles.

Price (1-0) has anchored the staff, with three strong outings, giving up just one earned run on 13 hits with five walks for a 0.40 ERA.

"I liked the moves at the time," Ausmus said. "Greene was a little more of a wild card, not as much of a finished product. We don't know wholly what we've gotten yet until we go a full season with him. We certainly liked what we saw from him when we faced him.

"I'm sure everyone will have their bumps here and there, but so far, so good."

For the relievers, the starting pitching has been a pleasure to watch, needing just a few innings of help. They've spent more time spectating from the left-field bullpen than getting in games.

"We were joking around the other day โ€” what do we need a bullpen for?" said reliever Ian Krol, who pitched a perfect eighth inning Sunday. "It's unbelievable what (Greene's) been able to do."

The Tigers will get another challenge this week, beginning with a four-game series against the Yankees, who are second in the Majors with 17 home runs. Simon will go for his third win, facing C.C. Sabathia. Lobstein starts Tuesday.

It's a small sample size, but pitching coach Jeff Jones has seen the benefit of having good starting pitching and ample run support.

"It's been great; we knew we had a lot of games in our division the first month of the season," Jones said. "You always want to do well in your division and it's very gratifying. Hopefully guys can continue."

Rod.Beard@detroitnews.com

Twitter.com/detnewsRodBeard

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