The Tigers have constructed quite a batting order.

Minnesota doesn't count. The Tigers should have been playing hockey rather than baseball during those frigid days at Target Field last week when their hitters did little and the Twins took two of three, at least in part because of Wednesday's ninth-inning bullpen blowup.

But on Friday, the sun shone and a civilized baseball game could be played. And a team that had not hit a home run in three games at Minneapolis slammed three against the Yankees. In Saturday's game, an 8-4 stomping of the Yankees, the Tigers had 17 hits.

A thought coming into 2013 was that manager Jim Leyland's gang would score 100 more runs than they did in 2012. One hundred sounds about right. Still.

The difference-makers already are making a dent. Torii Hunter is solid gold at the No. 2 slot that was one of six spots in Leyland's lineup that was a habitual dud in 2012.

Not for a day during spring camp nor during a game this week has Victor Martinez shown he will be anything but the .300-hitting Martinez the world has come to regard as a super-skilled hitting craftsman.

Alex Avila will have a season closer to 2011 than to his off-year in 2012. Omar Infante, a good man with the bat, is Leyland's pick in the No. 9 spot that typically houses a banjo hitter.

It tells you how good this offense should be all season long. And why that 100-run differential could easily hold up.

Joaquin Benoit pitches the ninth and puts down three Yankees left-handed hitters in the win.

Leyland had said even before Saturday's 3-hour, 28-minute marathon ended at Comerica Park that he wanted to get Benoit involved in ninth-inning situations.

It has to do with the right-handed Benoit's skill at pitching to left-handed hitting batters. It's a talent you also need during the set-up eighth inning, which tends to be Benoit's province, but Leyland will try and nurse the eighth with other combinations as the Tigers deal with their closer-deprived bullpen.

Benoit has worked save situations before. He was the fill-in closer during his days with the Rangers when either Eric Gagne or C.J. Wilson needed a 24-hour vacation.

"I don't know why, but I feel really comfortable facing left-handers," Benoit said after he got Lyle Overbay on a ground ball, struck out Ichiro Suzuki, and put away Brett Gardner on a soft fly to center. "I feel like part of the plate I can dominate is always open."

To which fans will say: Then make Benoit your closer.

The Tigers, in fact, might be in the process of doing just that. The catch comes if your eighth-inning replacements have the same problem the Tigers ran into during Wednesday's game at Minnesota. And if the eighth gets away, the ninth becomes all but academic.

The solution, of course, is simple. If all the relievers pitch well, the back-end inning arrangements will be silky smooth. If not, you can configure pitchers and roles any way imaginable and you'll come away with a grand guarantee: blown leads and lost games.