JustinVerlanderThe Tigers defeated the Chicago Cubs 5-3 on Thursday afternoon to take the series and lift their record to 30-33. The Tigers were supposed to shred the American League Central en route to their second consecutive division crown, but this series win, after taking the series from the Cincinnati Reds over the weekend, marks only the second time this season that the Tigers have won back-to-back series.

In fact, we have to go all the way back to April 12 to remember this feeling. The Tigers swept the Boston Red Sox to open the year, then took two of three from the Rays, and then pretty much fell off the radar. They’ve won a few series in the mean time, and even swept a couple of them, but they hadn’t put back-to-back wins together in those 17 series.

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Maybe the team is turning the corner (now that they should be getting more players off the disable list than on), or maybe it’s just facing National League competition (where they’re 6-3 on the year, all series wins), but the Tigers have been playing some pretty good ball of late. And it’s the first time in a long time that we can say the team is above the .500 mark over an extended stretch (they’re 10-9 in the last 19 games). They still have plenty of work to do to chase down the White Sox (they’re 4.5 games back as of the completion of the game), but there’s a new feeling of life surrounding the club.

The Tigers took contributions from pretty much everyone in the finale versus the Cubs, but the three stars of the game are:

Justin Verlander: His eight inning effort was rocky in the beginning, he allowed two runs in the second, but that was all the Cubs would get. His final line (8 IP, 8 K, 0 BB 2 ER) will be good enough to win just about every time out.

Austin Jackson: It’s great to have his bat in the lineup again. Quintin Berry filled in admirably, but he simply couldn’t match Jackson’s power potential. Austin ended the day 3-4 (plus a walk) with a double and a home run (he knocked in three and scored twice).

Ryan Raburn: A lot of folks were none to pleased to find out that Raburn had been recalled from the minor leagues today and that he had been inserted into the lineup, but he came through with two hits in three plate appearances (a single and a double). He and Jackson were the only two Tigers to both score a run and drive in a run.

Matt Snyder is the editor of The Tigers Den. He can be reached on Twitter @snyder_matthew.