With nine games left to play, a significant number because we use a base-10 counting system, the AL Central is squared up after the White Sox fell to the Indians and the Tigers defeated the Royals. It wasn’t a pretty way to reach this point as the White Sox have gone 4-6 over the last ten with the Tigers pulling in at 5-5, but this is what we were dealt.
Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer’s 459 combined strikeouts and Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder’s 70 home runs put the Tigers here, their porous infield defense be damned. Meanwhile Chris Sale’s Slenderman act along with strong seasons from AJ Pierzynski, Paul Konerko, Adam Dunn, and Alex Rios have propelled the White Sox to a position very few expected at the beginning of the season. All of that’s meaningless now because it could be Gordon Beckham or Andy Dirks or even, excuse me, Gerald Laird that play hero to close out the year.
So where does it go from here? Here’s the Tigers schedule the rest of the way. Sadly, the scheduling gods did not give us a White Sox-Tigers series to close it all out:
- 2 games vs. Kansas City
- 3 games @ Minnesota
- 3 games @ Kansas City
Combined, the Royals and Twins are a combined 39 games under .500 and the Tigers are 17-11 against the two clubs this year. It should be smooth sailing, but the Tigers just came off a series where they lost two of three to the Twinkies.
Meanwhile, the White Sox have:
- 1 game vs. Cleveland
- 4 games vs. Tampa Bay
- 3 games at Cleveland
While the Indians are 18 games below .500, the Rays are 13 games above and should prove difficult to defeat. Against the two clubs, the White Sox are 12-4.
Just who is going to win this thing? Judging solely the quality of opponent and based on my pre-season predictions, the Tigers should pull ahead. Fortunately, things are never that simple. The White Sox have the better head-to-head record against their opponents, small sample be damned, and really, were it not for the White Sox’s biggest failures, going 12-24 against the Tigers and Royals, the division would be already wrapped up and we’d be talking about who is at fault for the Tigers disappointing season.
With the loser of the division likely going home for the winter, this last week should be lots of fun. Then again, baseball in May is a lot of fun, too. That’s how I’m going to end this piece: baseball is fun.