Going into the last two months of the regular season, the American League’s Central Division looks like it will be battle to the finish between the Detroit Tigers and the Chicago White Sox. The Tigers currently trail the Sox by 2.5 games for the top spot in the division.
After a hot streak around the All-Star break, the Tigers have cooled losing six out of their last nine games. The White Sox, however, have won seven of their last nine. The Sox have their work cut out for them as they’ll open a home weekend series against one of the hottest teams in the AL, the Los Angeles Angels. The Tigers begin a seven game home-stand that starts with the Cleveland Indians this weekend. The New York Yankees will be in Detroit next week.
If the Tigers can stay even with the Sox through the month of August, they’ll have a distinct schedule advantage down the homestretch. Following an important four-game series against the White Sox beginning on September 10, the Tigers will play their final 19 games against Cleveland, Oakland, Minnesota and Kansas City. The Sox will also play the weaker teams in the AL Central down the stretch, but they’ll have to play series against the Angels and Rays, two teams that will likely be fighting for a playoff spot.
Although the Tigers have been struggling of late, if they can stay above .500 in the month of August they should be setting themselves up for a run a the division title in September. With so many teams fighting for the two wild-card spots, it’s essential that the Tigers earn their playoff berth by winning the division.
It appears that Tigers manager Jim Leyland still hasn’t decided on an everyday lineup for the homestretch, as he moved DH Delmon Young down to the six spot and promoted RF Brennan Boesch to the five hole yesterday in Boston. Expect more tinkering to the lineup over the next couple weeks. It’s even possible the Tigers could add a right handed bat via waivers before the end of the month.
The Tiger’s newest pitcher Anibal Sanchez will look to redeem himself after a shaky first outing with the Tigers last weekend. He’ll get the start against Cleveland righty Justin Masterson on Friday. Doug Fister and Max Scherzer will also get starts for the Tigers this weekend. Cleveland trails the Tigers by 5.5 games for the second spot in the division, so this series could be a do-or-die scenario for the Indians.