Detroit Tigers seeing defensive improvements during winning streak

In the past five games, the Detroit Tigers have scored 31 runs.

And their opponents?

Five.

“We haven’t played perfect, but we’ve played clean,” manager AJ Hinch said before Wednesday’s game against the Texas Rangers. “That’s part of winning.”

In building that 31-5 margin, the Tigers (45-51) have produced three shutouts: 1-0 over the Minnesota Twins in Game 1 of Saturday’s doubleheader, 7-0 against the Twins on Sunday and 14-0 in Monday’s series opener with the Rangers.

“Obviously the guy on the mound has the first line of defense,” Hinch said. “The second line of defense is, if he puts it in play, we’ve got to make plays. I still want to harp on the value of turning double plays when we can. … We’ve gotten a little better up the middle and our outfield is pretty lock down when we’ve got the guys out there that we have now. It’s a combo.”

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Detroit Tigers shortstop Zack Short throws to first during the fourth inning of the first baseball game of a doubleheader against the Minnesota Twins, Saturday, July 17, 2021, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

But how does Hinch know the defense has actually improved?

“Defensive metrics, to me, are all over the map,” Hinch said. “This is not to try to be coy, but just judge it by wins. If we win the games by playing clean baseball, then we’re in the right position. If we don’t, then we start looking at everything from pitch selection to location to defensive positioning to situational hitting.