Remember during spring training when the common thought was that the Detroit Tigers were going to be the only AL Central team to finish over .500, and as long as the Tigers didn’t combust completely, they would be walking away with the division? Those thoughts are long gone now as the Tigers have played their best baseball post All-Star break and have seen their lead actually be reduced by a half game; it is now down to just a two-game lead over the Cleveland Indians. It’s not even just the Indians on a hot streak recently; the Kansas City Royals have been just as hot as both clubs over the last two weeks.
It’s amazing to see the Tigers with a five-game win streak, Indians with an eight-game win streak, and finally, the Royals with a nine-game win streak all at the same time. It’s an almost unprecedented hot streak for a top half of a division to experience, and it now as made the top half of the division more competitive than I think anyone could have imagined. This was supposed to be the easy division, this was supposed to be the division where a team getting a wild card was about as attainable as Lindsay Lohan staying sober for a year. I’m not sure about Lindsay, but the Indians are now the second wild card team.
The key for the Tigers is to beat the two bottom teams, who they will see plenty of in the next two months. They must not just win series against the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins, they must sweep them like the Royals and Indians have done recently. What is crazy is these three teams’ schedules remaining are incredibly weak, meaning no one is likely to disappear anytime soon, so it becomes ‘who can take care of the weaker teams rather than waiting for someone to fail.’
No doubt the four-game set in Cleveland next week is going to be fascinating, but likely, it will be what these teams do with opponents like the White Sox and Twin that could be the deciding factor. The Tigers can take a giant step towards it this weekend by sweeping the White Sox.