If you were already groaning when the Tigers went down 2-0 quickly in the first inning on Wednesday night you were not the only one. With his back against the wall on Tuesday night, Justin Verlander threw 129 pitches of winning baseball into the cool evening. One night later, Eddie Bonine followed his near no-hitter with five steady innings to propel the Tigers one game from the 2009 postseason.
For all the criticism this team received in recent weeks for struggling against the Royals and White Sox, the past two games have shown a tremendous team character that has made the Tigers a very dangerous team for opponents. Placido Polanco has quickly become one of the more feared hitters in the AL with his ability to spray the ball anywhere. Curtis Granderson has begun to swing a powerful and hot bat to the tune of 30 homers. Magglio Ordonez is knocking on the door of .300 and driving the ball to the gaps like he did on Wednesday for 3 RBI. Even Ramon Santiago is becoming a steady sparkplug off the bench.
Before we begin to put the beer and champagne in the ice buckets, the Tigers need to get off to a strong start against Scott Baker and the Twins on Thursday afternoon. If there is room for concern, the Tigers had a magic number of 3 heading into a 3-game home series in 2006 and could not close the deal. While 2 is considerably better to deal with, a win against the Twins now would allow the Tigers to clinch and begin setting that rotation to face the Yankees.
Tigers 85-73 —
Twins 82-76 (2) 3GB