The Tigers jumped out to a 5-0 start partly because of Chris Shelton, who homered five times in his club's first four games. Shelton belted 10 home runs in the month for the Tigers, who ended April with the American League's best ERA and batting average against. Left-handers Kenny Rogers (4-2, 2.59) and Mike Maroth (3-1, 1.85) led the rotation, which completed sweeps against the Royals, Mariners and Twins.
As if 17 April victories weren't enough, the Tigers won 19 games in May and improved to a big-league-best 36-18 after two months. The Tigers put together winning streaks of seven and eight games in May and completed four sweeps. They were 6-0 against the Royals, 5-1 against the Indians and 4-2 against the Twins, but the Tigers struggled when they dropped three straight to the Yankees at Comerica Park at month's end. Todd Jones saved 13 of the Tigers' 19 victories, while Magglio Ordonez batted .320 with seven homers and 21 RBIs.
After losing five of their first eight games, the Tigers went 17-2 the rest of June. They beat up on the National League, winning six straight against the Cardinals and Astros, sweeping the Cubs and taking two of three from the Brewers. The Tigers outscored NL opponents, 88-38, during the month, while left-hander Nate Robertson (3-0, 2.53), right-hander Jeremy Bonderman (2-0, 1.77) and Rogers (3-0, 3.63) combined for eight of their club's 20 June wins.
The Tigers lost three of their first four games in July yet reeled off wins in eight of their next 12. The only series the Tigers lost came at Oakland early in the month, but they took two of three from the Mariners, White Sox, Indians, Twins and even the A's. Bonderman had one of his best months with a 4-1 record and a 3.66 ERA, while Robertson (2-3, 5.97) had one of his worst. Craig Monroe cruised through July with a .348 average, four homers and 17 RBIs.
A season-high five-game losing streak near the start of August cut Detroit's comfortable lead in the AL Central considerably. The Tigers went 2-5 against the White Sox, who crept back into contention, and lost six of their final eight games to end the month. Rogers did have, perhaps, his best month with a 3-1 record and a 1.64 ERA. Offensively, Carlos Guillen hit .340 (36-for-106) with four homers and 10 RBIs.
The Tigers had another so-so stretch but still managed to clinch a playoff berth with about a week remaining in the season. They lost every series against clubs with winning records, and that included the Angels, Twins, White Sox and Blue Jays.
Kevin Yanik is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.