DrewSmyly2As Brian pointed out the other day, the Tigers haven’t found success this year when they’ve found themselves face-to-face with the .500 plateau. But they once again find themselves in that very position after finishing off the series victory with a 5-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday.

Drew Smyly got the start for Detroit and helped out the team’s cause while breaking his personal streak of disappointing outings. The ERA number for the game wasn’t great, he still allowed three earned runs in five innings, but his peripheral numbers were more than just OK. Smyly fanned four hitters, walked just one, gave up only three hits, and didn’t allow a home run – something he had been struggling with lately.

The bullpen then went four innings and shut down the opposition without hardly a threat. Brayan Villarreal, Phil Coke, Joaquin Benoit, and Jose Valverde each threw an inning and combined for six strikeouts, two hits, and no walks.

Offensively, the Tigers put together a well-rounded team effort. They only recorded two extra base hits (a double each for Don Kelly and Ramon Santiago), but everyone reached base safely and everyone in the starting lineup – save Santiago – recorded either a run scored or an RBI (or both). It was the type of top-to-bottom affair that has been a rarity this season.

The win, combined with a loss by the Chicago White Sox, means the Tigers have pulled back to within three games of the division lead. All that separates the Tigers from the All-Star break is seven home games. Four against the last place Minnesota Twins, followed by three against the fourth place Royals. The “easy portion” of the schedule hasn’t been kind to the Tigers this year (see: losing the season series with the Mariners), but with the White Sox finishing up the first half against the Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays, it could be a good opportunity to gain ground in the division.

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