Yeah, old Optimus Prime knew what he was talking about. Pretty much eveything that’s happened the last 155 games has come down to this four game series between the Twins and the Tigers in the AL Central. The Tigers come in with a two game lead and their magic number is six. Simple math tells us that if the Tigers take three of four, the race is over. Even a more realistic split would put the Tigers one win away from a tie for the Central crown. The two game lead might not look like much, but it’s huge with just seven games left in the season.
Over the weekend, the Tigers didn’t help themselves by losing two of three to the Sox. They got plenty of offense in Saturday’s 12-5 win in a game where oddly they have to come back from a 5-0 deficit. They got shut out by Jake Peavy and the pen on Friday and then yesterday, they blew a 2-1 lead and lost 8-4. What was disconcerting in that game was how Fernando Rodney was roughed up for three runs that put the game way out of reach. They make a big deal out of his save/non-save splits (one more reason the stat is stupid because players actually seem to pitch to it). but those eighth inning runs really came back to haunt the Tigers because they were able to put together a rally in the ninth. Now maybe they don’t score those ninth inning runs in a close game, but still.
Curtis Granderson hit a lead off home run, his 28th long ball of the season. Edwin Jackson took the loss and he fell to 13-8 on the season.
Game one is tonight and this is effectively the playoffs with the Tigers having a built in 2-0 lead. It’s Rick Porcello against Nick Blackburn in the opener. Blackburn is 1-1 against the Tigers this year and his last complete game was a win against Detroit. Porcello is 1-2 against the Twins with one really good outing (seven shutout innings), one okay outing (three runs in six innings a week and a half ago) and one terrible outing (six runs in four innings in early July). This first game is particularly huge because of the significant swing between a three game lead and a one game lead.