Rearview Mirror.jpgOn June 1, the Tigers weren’t exactly reeling but they could not have felt good about the way the month ended.

They lost two games to the Mariners in Seattle, then came home to lose three of four to the A’s. After a 14-10 record in April, they stumbled to 12-14 in May.

How would they fare in June? Much better, despite losses to division opponents on the both ends of the month.

Detroit finished June with a 15-12 record and gained three games in the standings; on June 1 they were 4-1/2 back of the Twins, just 1-1/2 on June 30. In between, the Tigers surged thanks to that soft spot in the interleague schedule — Pittsburgh, Washington and Arizona — allowing them to gain ground on the Twins, who were playing much tougher National League opponents.

The Tigers’ abysmal 5-10 road record in June included losing two of three at Kansas City, Chicago and Minnesota. This has got to stop if the Tigers hope to stay relevant — much less in the hunt.

While a seven-game winning streak and a 10-2 home record certainly helped buoy the Tigers’ winning ways, we can’t overlook the convergence of wins with Brennan Boesch becoming a fixture in the lineup and the awakening of Brandon Inge, Alex Avila and, to a lesser degree, Gerald Laird.

As frustrating as this team is on some nights, they still have a compelling roster, an aggressive owner and a winnable division.

Issues to watch in July will be:

  • Can Jeremy Bonderman get his act together after three consecutive lousy starts?
  • Will Inge and Avila maintain their respective offensive resurgence?
  • Can Ryan Perry capably fill Joel Zumaya‘s role in the eighth inning?
  • Will Johnny Damon finally provide the consistent hitting the Tigers expected when they signed him?

  • Can they stop playing porous defense night in and night out?

Watching as these questions get answered should make this month a fascinating one. And, what we learn in July will determine whether the Tigers emerge as buyers or sellers — or neither — when the trade deadline arrives.