Two weeks from tomorrow the 2012 regular season will come to an end. At least that’s the plan, unless the Tigers and White Sox should end up in a tie atop the AL Central. The same AL Central that the Tigers were supposed to win handily this season. If there is a tie, the two rivals will meet on Thursday, October 4 to decide things in a one-game, winner-take-all, Game #163.
Detroit fans don’t want that. They remember all too well what happened in 2009 in Game #163 against the Minnesota Twins.
The Tigers enter play today three games game back of the Sox, and despite the consternation most fans feel after one-run losses Sunday and Monday, the team is still in position to stalk a lesser team and win the division. A look at the remaining schedule shows that the Tigers have a path to victory that favors them.
Sure, the Tigers play their final six games on the road, but first they have a 10-game homestand against the Oakland A’s, Minnesota Twins, and Kansas City Royals. While the A’s are fighting for a wild card spot, the other two teams are playing out the string. Given the Tigs stellar record at home this season, there’s reason to hope the Tigers can win at least 8 of the 10 games, and maybe more. There’s an urgency, and it’s starting to look like the Tigers players realize this.
Also, the Detroit offense finally seems to be revving up, having scored at least five runs in five of their last six games. Thankfully, neither the Twins or Royals have very good pitching this season, and the Tigers should feast on them in those series. The A’s will start pitchers named Griffin, Anderson, and Milone in this upcoming three-game series. Household names they are not, and the Detroit lineup should pound at them.
In fact, in their remaining 16 games the Tigers won’t see a legitimate ace. The closest thing to a top-notch starter they will face is Minnesota lefty Scott Diamond, who has 13 wins and 3.69 ERA. In his only start against Detroit this year, Diamond got a no-decision after going seven innings and allowing two runs back in July. He doesn’t strike fear in opposing batters.
If the Tigers are to win this thing they will have to do it by scoring runs in bunches. The pitching has been good enough – at times it’s been great – now the offense has to step up 1 through 9 and lift the team to where they were supposed be all season long.