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AL Central: Low tide
It's not quite time to panic, but if you're a Tigers fan, it's probably worth elevating your alert level to orange, for several reasons.
A 2-9 record in their last 11 games. Second place in the AL Central. Disabled list stints for Kenny Rogers, Andrew Miller and Joel Zumaya. A season-ending stimulant suspension for Neifi Perez. A four-game (and counting) absence of Gary Sheffield, who seems to have alternating shoulder woes. A manager admitting that his team is in "chaos".
And, most troubling of all, a scant half-game lead for the wild card.
This was to be the year of the AL Central. With four expected contenders for the division title and with the Yankees' horrible start, the Central seemed poised to be a major player in the postseason. It seemed especially the case once the Indians and Tigers emerged as frontrunners and weren't going to fall victim to the unbalanced schedule, losing too many games in the division while teams like the Angels and Red Sox beat up on weaker division opponents. But now, the Yankees have hit their stride and are finally playing like what you'd expect from a roughly $200 million payroll, so the Tigers certainly can't bank on a collapse in the Bronx.
The Tigers are in the midst of a very important stretch. It's odd to call games against Tampa Bay and Oakland "must wins," but Detroit needs to regain its stride against these two sub-.500 teams before it plays the worst stretch that schedule makers have ever perpetrated on a team. The Tigers got off to a good start with a seventh-inning comeback win last night, and have seven more games against the Devil Rays and Athletics in which they need to keep pace.
Then, the Tigers' next four series go like this: Indians-Yankees-Indians-Yankees. That's right, Detroit plays 13 consecutive games against Cleveland and New York. No wonder Jim Leyland is talking about being ready for the ship to sink.
Last year was somewhat of a fairy tale for the Tigers. If they want an encore, it's got to start now.
Labels: AL Central
posted by SI.com | View comments |
Seems to me that losing Nefei Perez for the season will make the Tigers better, not worse.
AL East blog (Monday)
NL West blog (Monday)
AL Central blog (Tuesday)
NL Central blog (Wednesday)
AL West blog (Thursday)
NL East blog (Thursday)
Wild Card (Friday)