The season has just 10 games left, but the pressure has only continued to build following midweek sweeps on the road by the Tigers and Twins. I’ve highlighted five reasons why I believe the Tigers are set to play the Yankees in two weeks. Let us know your thoughts!
1.) The magic number – Looking at a three game lead is one thing, but a number that only decreases is another. The Tigers have a magic number of 8 with 10 games left. Every win against the Twins means that two come off that magical total. Based on this, if they split the four-game series with the Twins in Detroit, the Tigers will need a combination of four Tigers wins or Twins losses to clinch – which leads me to my next point…
2.) Zack Greinke – Greinke has made five starts against the Tigers this year, posting a 1.00 ERA. Greinke’s number of starts against the Twins… 0. That’s right, the Cy Young leading candidate has never faced Gardenhire’s group. The task for the Twins will be to face Greinke twice down the stretch. He also happens to be inspired for a certain trophy lately, following a number of impressive starts against contending teams.
3.) Tigers Sparkplugs – Magglio Ordonez, Placido Polanco, Carlos Guillen and Ryan Raburn are playing their best ball of the season (in Raburn’s case, his career) right now when the pressure has picked up. Ordonez is trying to hit .300 in three straight seasons, while Guillen is proving that he’s just as lethal batting from the right side. My guess is that he’ll be heavily considered to DH over Thames and Huff in the postseason.
4.) Rick Porcello – An article written three weeks ago for The New York Times listed Rookie of the Year candidates and Porcello was not mentioned in the top five! Perhaps some writers in NYC are out of a job by now because Porcello has looked more and more like a leading candidate down the stretch. He has been a stopper during some key September moments and looks like that midseason rest has been good for the long run. With two more starts on the season, Tigers fans will get a thrill watching this youngster go for season and career wins 15 and 16 against the White Sox.
5.) Injuries – Yes, the Twins are on quite a roll right now and playing some inspired baseball. One would have to think that the Twins train will eventually be plagued by the lingering injury bug. At this point in the season, the Twins bench consists of Carlos Gomez, Alexi Casilla, Mike Redmond and Jose Morales. The rotation has Carl Pavano as their number two and Jeff Manship as the fifth starter. If Kubel and Cuddyer begin to cool down, throwing around Mauer will be an extremely easy task. The relievers also logged plenty of innings and struggled mightily in the recent series with Chicago.