Bettors back baseball’s hottest team

Bettors who jumped on the Detroit Tigers’ bandwagon when the calendar turned to September have been strolling to the cashier’s window at an alarming rate.

Jim Leyland’s club has captured its last dozen games, which is Detroit’s longest winning streak since the 1934 squad won 14 in a row.

The run began on Sept. 2 when Justin Verlander and the Tigers tamed the Chicago White Sox 8-1 as 2.00 home favorites.

The Tigers have scored eight runs or more, while allowing two runs or less, seven times during the 12-game winning streak. The ‘over’ is 8-4 during that span.

Verlander has won three times during the streak to lift his ledger to a league-best 23-5. His 2.36 ERA also leads the league, as does his 238 strikeouts. Since the 28-year-old right-hander is the leader in all triple-crown pitching categories, he is probably going to collect his first Cy Young award.

However, Verlander has not been the only Detroit pitcher to have a career year. Jose Valverde, the portly right-hander, has been perfect in the closer’s role. The 6-foot-4, 255-pound veteran has registered 44 saves in 44 opportunities to go along with a 2.48 ERA.

Most of Detroit’s 12 victories during the streak have not been close, as only three of those wins have been by one run. The Tigers have blasted the White Sox during the streak by scores of 8-1, 18-2 and 14-4, while registering a 10-1 win against the Cleveland Indians.

It should be noted, however, that the Tigers have not faced any team with a winning record during the streak. Six of the victories have occurred against the White Sox, with the other six split evenly between the Indians and Twins.

Playing against teams in their own Central Division has also been a boom for the Tigers, evidenced by their 46-21 ledger.

Heading into Thursday night’s game at Oakland against the A’s – the first of a four-game weekend series – the Tigers are a season high 25 games above .500. That puts them two games in front of the Texas Rangers for the last spot to have home-field advantage during the first round of the playoffs.

Detroit’s magic number is two for clinching its first division title since 1987.

After the weekend series with the A’s, Detroit will conclude its road schedule with two games against Kansas City before finishing the regular season with four home games against Baltimore and three with Cleveland. None of Detroit’s remaining opponents have anything close to a winning record.

Most of Detroit’s success this season can be attributed to its offense. The Tigers are fourth in average runs scored (4.81), third in batting average (.275) and fourth in OPS (.765). Speed is not one of the club’s strengths, as the Tigers are last in stolen bases (47).

Pitching (other than Verlander) and defense also have not been a strong suit. Detroit is 19th with a 4.04 ERA and 17th with 95 errors.

The Tigers are 57-44 against right-handed starters, 30-18 versus southpaws, 27-15 in one-run games and 5-3 in extra inning affairs. They entered the Oakland series outscoring the opposition by 62 runs (717-655).

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