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After losing the first two games of the series to the Minnesota Twins, the Tigers salvaged a split by taking the final two games. Justin Verlander tossed a complete game 4-hitter in the Tigers’ 5-1 victory on Wednesday. Then Prince Fielder hit the game-winning home run in a 7-3 Tigers win on Thursday. Doug_Fister

With the two straight wins, Detroit moves back to one game under .500 at 41-42. They stand 4.5 games back of the division leading White Sox and 2.5 games behind second place Cleveland.

The Tigers host the Kansas City Royals for three games leading up to the All Star break.

Here are a few observations from the Minnesota series:

Fister’s struggles continue

Doug Fister hasn’t had the year that he or the Tigers expected. A side injury led to two separate stints on the DL this season and when he has pitched, the results have been much different than when he dominated last year after the Tigers acquired him from the Mariners. On Tuesday night, Fister cruised through the first three innings of the game without allowing a hit while striking out four. But in the fourth inning things fell apart for the right hander. He allowed six hits and four runs while the Twins brought all nine batters to the plate. Fister went out to the mound in the fifth, but he allowed two more runs without recording an out and was pulled from the game. Fister has now lost his last three starts, allowing 16 runs during that span.

Fister started 10 games for Detroit last season and went 8-1 with a 1.79 ERA and a 0.84 WHIP. In 10 starts this year, Fister is 1-6 with a 4.61 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP. The Tigers need Fister to pitch like he did in the second half of last season if they want to catch the White Sox.

Downs and Ortega impress after call-up from Toledo

When the Tigers sent Luis Marte and Danny Worth down to Triple-A Toledo on Tuesday, it opened the door for two Mud Hens pitchers to pitch in the big leagues. Jose Ortega and Darin Downs were called up to bolster the Tigers’ bullpen and both pitchers were called upon to pitch in their first game up. Ortega went 2.1 innings allowing just one run while striking out four, while Downs pitched a scoreless inning with one strikeout. Downs pitched again in Thursday’s win and was very effective. He tossed three strong innings with five strikeouts taking over for Porcello after he was knocked out of the game in the fourth inning.

Ortega was 3-5 with a 4.23 ERA this year at Toledo with 38.1 innings pitched. Downs was 0-2 for Toledo with a 2.15 ERA in 29.1 innings pitched. Downs provides the Tigers with another left hander out of the bullpen and Ortega is another talented right hander. Both pitchers will need to keep pitching well if they want to stay in the majors, but so far, so good.

Cabrera is swinging a hot bat

It’s well documented that Miguel Cabrera is a great hitter and a great run producer and he showed off his talent throughout the Minnesota series. Cabrera belted out eight hits and knocked in eight runs during the four game series, highlighted by a two homer game on the 4th of July. Cabrera’s batting average is up to .325 and his 70 RBIs are second in the AL to only Josh Hamilton. He continues to thrive in the third spot in the order with Prince Fielder now protecting him in the four spot. So far the experiment to move Cabrera to third base has been successful and his added responsibilities in the field have not slowed down his offensive production. Cabrera is a .317 career hitter and has eight consecutive years of driving in over 100 runs.