Game 2012.160: Tigers at Royals

86-73, 1st place, magic # is 1.

The Tigers won their 6th game in 7 tries in dramatic fashion last night to move 13 games over .500 for the first time all year, and 3 games ahead of the White Sox with three to play. Sweet October is here.

I’d like to point out that while Valverde has now thrown 4 consecutive scoreless and hitless innings, allowing only 1 walk, two of his outs yesterday were scorchers that took great plays by AJax to call them outs. And he’s only struck out 2 in those 4 innings, which isn’t an acceptable K/9 ratio for a closer. Benoit is coming off of his worst outing of the year, so we do have a bit of bullpen chaos, though Leyland likely doesn’t recognize it; which is probably best at this point in time.

But let’s be honest, the playoffs are a mere formality. While losing 3 to the Royals is not out of the question (2006 anyone?), the White Sox would have to concurrently win their last 3 to force a one-game playoff. Winning one will be a chore for the pale hose. Sox and Indians start an hour before us. Remember what we discussed last week about the Tigers’ playoff performance and Leyland’s contract.

The AL Playoff Scenarios are wide-open, as the Rangers, Orioles and Yankees scramble for pole position, and the A’s hang on to the final WC spot. As stephen reminded us yesterday, some funky MLB scheduling means that the lower seeds will open at home this year for 2 games, with the final 3 games on the road. So if the Tigers do indeed find themselves in the postseason, they’ll open with Verlander and Fister/Scherzer at Comerica on Saturday and Sunday. As of now, the Tigers could find themselves opening against any of the Rangers, Orioles, Yankees and Athletics.

Max Scherzer threw yesterday and said his shoulder was fine, though unless the Tigers find themselves in a win or go home situation on Wednesday, I expect his next start to be game 2 in Detroit.

Cy Chen against Ricky P tonight. Considering how well Sanchez has thrown as of late, I imagine that this could be Porcello’s last start for a while.

A few notes:

– ESPN is going to cut in for each of Miggy’s ABs on Wednesday. Cabrera holds a slim lead over Mauer for the batting race (.325 to .323) is tied with Hamilton for the HR lead (43) and has a comfortable lead in RBIs (136 to Hamilton’s 125).

– JV’s 2-0, 1.20 ERA last week earned him co-player of the week honors.

Today’s Player of the Pre-Game – Big Prince Fielder. Fielder has 3 HRs, 7 RBIs and 5 runs over his last 10 games. A hot Fielder means more pitches for Miggy.

Tonight’s Playoff Clinching? Lineup:

1. Jackson, CF
2. Infante, 2B
3. Cabrera, 3B
4. Fielder, 1B
5. Young, DH (remember when he used to play in the OF? Hilarious.)
6.  Peralta, SS
7. Dirks, LF
8. Garcia, RF
9. Laird, C