During the season, we'll keep fans updated on the chase for the American League Central Division by charting the Detroit Tigers' competition.
As the calendar flips to baseball's critical month of September, the Detroit Tigers find themselves out of first place. A significant lead in July dwindled to nothing in August, and the Kansas City Royals, amidst a hot streak, snatched the top spot and have held on to it.
Since then, Detroit has battled back, not allowing the divisional lead to swell over three games. That's key, considering the Tigers and Royals play six more times in the month, a stretch which could likely decide the winner of the division.
The Cleveland Indians are hanging around, but haven't been consistent enough to consider a true threat.to win the division. They made a statement with a weekend sweep of the Royals, but have fallen flat at home against the Tigers, losing the first two out of a four game set.
Essentially, the Central has become a three team race. The Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins, while probably eliminated, will still play a role in who wins it, though, considering their encounters with the big three over the last month.
Kansas City Royals (77-61, 0 games back). The Royals were lucky this week to play the surrendering Texas Rangers, which allowed the team to get healthy in a big way with a sweep. Next up, likely a more fair challenge comes with a weekend trip to the Bronx to play the New York Yankees. Then, early next week, a significant battle with the Tigers in Detroit, a place which hasn't been kind to Kansas City in the past. This season, the team is 3-3 at Comerica Park, most recently taking a four game set there in June.
Detroit Tigers (76-63, 1.5 games back). With their loss to Cleveland on Wednesday, Detroit fell back to a game and a half behind the Royals. A huge series looms early next week in Detroit, as Kansas City comes calling for a three game set which will feature some quality pitching match ups. Until then, Detroit will tangle with the second place San Francisco Giants over the weekend, meaning the head to head battle with the Royals will be huge.
Cleveland Indians (71-66, 5.5 games back). The Indians had shaved the Royals lead to 3.5 games after the weekend, but two losses to Detroit early in the week hurt. The Tribe is still hanging around the wild card race, but to overcome plenty of teams in that, they'll have to get more consistent, especially with regards to offense and pitching. A good start would be winning Thursday, then letting the Royals and Tigers play their playoff hungry competition over the weekend, beat up on themselves and then see where they stand.
Max DeMara is the editor of @tigers_101. Follow the site there on Twitter, or like it on Facebook to connect with him.
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