It was easy, when the season began, to envision the Tigers in this position. But the Pirates? Perhaps not.
Even after the Tigers edged the Pirates, 6-5, on Monday at Comerica Park, Pittsburgh stands 11 games over .500, and is closing in on the Cardinals in the National League Central with a 31-20 mark.
Through 51 games last year, the Pirates were 26-25. With the win, the Tigers improved their standing atop the American League Central, ahead of the rival Indians. Detroit has won six of seven overall and 50 of their last 69 home games dating back to July 4 of last year.
Detroit is also 85-47 in Interleague Play since the start of the 2006 season as the two teams head into the second of two games played at Comerica Park on Tuesday. After Tuesday's game, they'll head to PNC Park on Pittsburgh to finish the pair of two-game sets at PNC Park.
Tuesday's game at Comerica Park will pit Detroit right-hander Rick Porcello against Pittsburgh righty Jeanmar Gomez.
A lengthy rain delay in his last start cost Gomez his third win of the year, but his numbers are as good as ever. He held the Cubs to three hits and one run in 3 2/3 innings in that last outing, and has held opponents to a .192 average with men in scoring position this season.
Porcello, meanwhile, did not have his curveball at his disposal thanks to some chilly Detroit weather in his last outing, but his changeup did the trick. With some warmer weather in the forecast for Tuesday, he hopes to have all his pitches working.
"He has been aggressive, throwing a better breaking ball and using his changeup really well," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.
Pirates: Inge returns to Comerica Park
Pirates third baseman Brandon Inge was a late addition to the Pittsburgh lineup Monday, adding to his career totals at Comerica Park, where he played the majority of his career with the Tigers.
Monday morning, Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski made a surprise visit to the Pirates clubhouse, presenting Inge with a 2012 World Series ring -- for the nine games he played with Detroit last April.
"It came as a surprise. A nice surprise," Inge said. "A wonderful gesture."
• The Pirates have won 10 of their last 13 and 13 of 17.
They're 13-11 in Interleague Play since the beginning of last year.
Tigers: Peralta red-hot at the plate
• With a four-hit ballgame on Monday, shortstop Jhonny Peralta has hit safely in 34 of his last 39 games, batting .361 with 24 runs scored, 11 doubles, five home runs and 23 RBIs.
• Miguel Cabrera is hitting .393 (151-for-384) with runners in scoring position since the beginning of the 2011 season.
The Tigers' third baseman is one double shy of becoming the 17th active player with at least 400 career doubles.
He had a 12-game hitting streak snapped with an 0-for-4 afternoon Monday.
• Pittsburgh has at least one extra-base hit in 46 consecutive games, the longest current streak in baseball. The Tigers have the second-longest streak, clocking in at 43 straight games.
• Torii Hunter is one home run away from becoming the 17th active player with 300 career home runs.