Fielder_and_Ilitch_shotThe Tigers haven’t lived up to their high expectations so far this season. After signing Prince Fielder to his huge deal, most baseball experts picked Detroit to run away with the AL Central title. But baseball doesn’t always work in that way. What a team looks like on paper often has little to do with how the team actually performs on the field.

So here we are at the end June and the Tigers are fighting and clawing just to get to .500. Despite all the struggles and the disappointment, Detroit is still only 3 games behind the AL Central leading White Sox and 1.5 games behind second place Cleveland.

Some teams would love to be in the position the Tigers are in. Pittsburgh hasn’t finished a season above the .500 mark since 1992. Cubs’ fans would give their left leg for the team on the north side of Chicago to even sniff the .500 mark. The young Kansas City Royals team would consider a .500 record success. But for the Tigers, .500 baseball just isn’t good enough.

But even the .500 record, which in itself is only mediocre, has eluded the Tigers. The last time this season that the Tigers were at .500 was May 15th after a win over the White Sox put their record at 18-18. They have had their chances to even their record throughout the season but haven’t been able to do so. Since May 15th, the Tigers have had five games where wins would put their record at .500, the most recent coming last night against the Rangers.

But each time the Tigers lost. Last night, the Tigers couldn’t quiet the Texas bats and Yu Darvish earned the win. On May 28th, Felix Doubront bested Doug Fister at Fenway Park, moving the Tigers record to 23-25. On May 22nd, Ubaldo Jimenez led the Indians past the Tigers at Progressive Field to deny Detroit of a .500 record. On May 19th, A.J. Burnett out-dueled Drew Smyly to give the Pirates a win at Comerica Park.  On May 17th, Fister lost his second game of the year and the Twins bested the Tigers 4-3.

It’s frustrating for a team to look at its record and see that there are more losses than wins. Maybe it becomes a mental roadblock for a team that is close to .500 to get over the hump and earn a winning record. Whatever it may be, the .500 mark has escaped the Tigers since mid May. While they have much higher hopes for their season, before the Tigers can catch the White Sox and Indians, they have to get that win that will even out their record.

Maybe the 6th time will be the charm. And maybe that will be the beginning of a run that gets the Tigers to where many thought they would before the season began.