Baseballistic
All Things Baseball

Hot Pursuit in the AL Central

Just a few weeks earlier, it seemed all but certain that the AL Central division would belong to the Tigers, and the White Sox and Twins would be in a battle for the Wildcard, with the loser (undeservedly) missing the playoffs.  Now, both the White Sox and the Twins are quickly closing the gap in the divisional race, and the Tigers have gone from predators to prey. 

Francisco Liriano’s return should give the Twins a huge boost down the stretch

The Twins have a very decent shot at unseating the Tigers, because they have plenty of games against losing teams, or teams that are currently struggling.  After completing this 3-game series against Oakland, the Twins have a 4-game set against Cleveland, 3 games at Fenway against the BoSox, 3 games against the O’s, 4 against the “Royal Spoilers”, and 3 against the ChiSox to finish off the season.  They will also get a HUGE boost to their starting rotation on Wednesday, when Francisco Liriano returns.  With their bullpen as good as ever, and their bats peaking at the right time, the Twins have a very real shot at winning the AL Central, and putting a damper on the Tigers otherwise amazing season.

 

Jermaine Dye will need to stay hot for the ChiSox to stay in the playoff hunt

But an even scarier scenario for the Comerica Park fans is that the Chicago White Sox could also get hot.  The ChiSox would have to overcome a tough schedule, but with their starting pitching returning to its prior form and MVP-candidate Jermaine Dye leading a potent lineup, they have a chance to take advantage of the Angels, A’s, Mariners, and Indians, while focusing on their games against Detroit and Minnesota.  You know Ozzie Guillen will launch a tirade if the White Sox miss the playoffs (while Jay Mariotti sits in his office laughing hysterically), and that is plenty of inspiration for the Southsiders to play well these last few weeks.  And the White Sox will need to, if the Twins and Tigers continue playing solid baseball. 

Don’t look now Mr. Verlander, but your Tigers’ playoff spot isn’t so secure any more

While the odds of it happening are quite slim, the Tigers could miss the playoffs, should the ChiSox and Twins play well for the rest of the season.  The gap between the White Sox and Tigers is only 3 games, with the Twins trailing Detroit by 1.5, and leading the division by the same margin over Chicago.   It used to be an all-out battle between the ChiSox and Twins, but with the Tigers slipping a little of late, this is now a battle of 3 teams for 2 playoff spots. 

With the AL West and AL East all but sealed up for Oakland and the Yankees, respectively, the AL Central and Wildcard races are now the most exciting in baseball. 

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Trivia Time!

The last Question was…

Before coming to the A’s in 2005, Jay Payton played for 4 different MLB teams in 7 seasons.  Can you name them?

And the Answer…

New York Mets (1998-2001, 2002), Colorado Rockies (2002, 2003), San Diego Padres (2004), Boston Red Sox (2005). 

Today’s question is…

Hindsight is 20/20, and the Twins have made one spectacular trade and one awful roster move in the past 5 years.  Can you name the two moves, one of which is perhaps the best move in the past decade, and one which might be the worst? 

Answer by posting a comment.  The correct answer will be at the end of my next post. 

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