So-So July Keeps Tigers in AL East Hunt

The Detroit Tigers finished July with a middling 15-14 mark, but managed to stay glued to third place in the AL East, where they began the month with a 41-35 record and were just 6½ games out of first. Now, they remain in third with a won-lost of 56-48, but have dropped two games to 8½ back of the front-running Yankees. The month ahead looks at least somewhat promising, however; nearly half of their schedule pits Detroit against the second-division Blue Jays, White Sox, and Indians. The bad news is, the other half of the docket consists of games against the Brewers, Twins, and Rangers.

The Tigers displayed some solid individual performances in July that helped offset their mediocre won-lost total. Part-time player Tim Corcoran returned as a starter in right field and responded with a .409 average for the month, while Steve Kemp continued to wield a hot bat, hitting .327 for July and currently leading the team overall with 18 home runs and 63 RBI. Phil Mankowski played a majority of the squad’s games at third, hitting .308 in 23 games. Almost forgotten in the stolen base race was Ron LeFlore, who swiped 20 in July and has 57 on the year; another pair of 20-steal months will allow LeFlore to break Cobb’s AL record of 96, if Seattle’s Julio Cruz doesn’t do it first.

On the mound, starter Dave Rozema went 4-1 with a 1.35 earned run average for the month, while veteran John Hiller had four saves and a 1.15 ERA in a relief capacity. Rozema’s season mark of 13-5 leads all starters, as does his 1.85 ERA; Hiller’s 6-0 won-lost, 12 saves and 0.53 ERA for ’78 puts him in the running for the Rolaids Relief Man Award in the American League. And the return of Mark Fidrych from injuries sustained in 1977 seems to be a success; his 4-2 mark and 2.07 ERA have helped keep the Tigers in hot pursuit of the AL East flag.

To check out the Tigers team page for statistics through July, click here. The boxes for league leaders, team rankings, and award totals have been left blank; these numbers will be added after all AL team statistics have been finalized, and July award winners have been picked.

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