Based on their recent performances, it looks more like the Tigers and White Sox are just playing out the string, bags packed for the refuge of their comfy winter homes as most cellar dwellers do at this point in the season, rather than actually battling for a division crown. It’s painful to watch.
The Sox are now on a five-game losing streak and are a meager 9-12 for September as their once-potent offense has disappeared, ranking 11th in run production in the AL for the month. Their once-stellar pitching is merely average now, ranking 9th in the AL with a 4.26 ERA over the last 21 games.
And despite the heroics of your next AL MVP, Miguel Cabrera, the Tigers hardly look like a team trying to take advantage of the Sox mediocrity, going a game below .500 since September began. We can’t blame it on the pitching, whose 3.45 ERA for the month ranks 3rd in the AL, but Detroit’s bats haven’t been much louder than the Sox, scoring only 9 more runs than in the last 21 games. The real issue, as it has been all season, is the truly appalling lack of defense. Ranking dead last in Defensive Efficiency Rating, the Tigers don’t necessarily commit more errors than anyone, they just don’t get to balls Major Leaguers should be able to get to. That trend reared it’s ugly head in yesterday’s doubleheader vs. the Twins where Detroit blew yet another opportunity to take the division lead by committing 4 errors and dropping both games by a combined score of 12-5.
More than anything, neither team has been able to take advantage of just how horrible the AL Central truly is. The White Sox are only two games over .500 against the rest of the division. Their biggest nemesis (besides the Tigers) are the Royals whom they have a 6-12 record against. Meanwhile, the Tigers can’t find a way to consistently take care of bottom feeders Minnesota and Cleveland with a record of 16-17 against two teams that are a combined 52 games below .500 for the year!
It’s going to be difficult to watch the two combatants sputter and lurch into these final 10 games. On paper, the Tigers should have the easier schedule of the two with seven games vs. the Royals and three against the Twins, but we all know games aren’t played on paper. The Sox have six games left with the Indians and four with the Rays who are still battling for a Wild Card berth.
The inconsistency of the two teams makes it impossible to predict what will happen down the stretch. It seems neither team really wants it at this point. I guess the winner will be the team that doesn’t want it just a litte less.