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Big Night

There’s a chance that we look back at the night of September 4, 2009 as the night the scales finally tipped in one direction in the AL Central.  The Twins lost to a mediocre Indians team and then the Tigers rallied for three runs in the top of the ninth (all of which they’d end up needing) to walk away with a win against the Rays.  The end result is that the Tigers have a six game lead in the AL Central with 28 games left to play.  If the Tigers play .500 ball the rest of the way and finish 14-14, this would force the Twins to go 20-8.  Possible, but not likely for a team that’s had a tough time keeping their head over the .500 mark.  It’d be nice if the Tigers have the division wrapped up before that final four game series with the Twins the last week of the season and if the Tigers keep doing their thing, that’s a distinct possibility.

Last night’s game was a pitcher’s dual for eight innings with Justin Verlander and Jeff Niemann both pitching into the eighth inning and each allowing just one run.  Verlander and Niemann were the second and fourth picks in the 2004 draft and while Verlander has had the longer career to date, Niemann looks like a keeper as well, which explains why the Rays, with guys like Niemann and Price, were willing to part with Edwin Jackson this past offseason.

Verlander gave up a run on four hits and a walk with seven strikeouts in eight innings.  He did get up to 126 pitches and it’s the third time in five starts he’s topped the 120 pitch mark.  I know the Tigers haven’t clinched, but if they get that lead up to eight or nine, Leyland might want to start cutting short some of Verlander’s starts so he’ll have a ready arm heading into the postseason. 

Fernando Rodney was rocked for two runs on two hits and two walks in the ninth but fortunately, had three runs to work with so he picked up his 32nd save of the season.  For Verlander, it was his 16th win of the season.

Miguel Cabrera his his 28th home run of the season and he finished two for four.  Adam Everett drove in a run with a single and then he later scored on a sac. fly by Placido Polanco in the ninth.

Armando Galarraga makes his return tonight and the Rays will throw James Shields.  The FOX game of the week for us should be the Indians and the Twins so the Tigers will know if they’ve picked up half game or not before their first pitch.

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