As the postseason looms, it brings back memories of the annual fall classic grasping our awareness on which team is worthy of winning the pennant or teams that are bust. As the season unfolds, it captivates our senses seeing which team survives the finish, after withstanding a bleak and shameful season for all the treacherous steroid scandals.
It involved a mysterious list that has taunted the game of baseball, leaving a beloved sport in limbo as fans tried figuring out the next con artist.
But now, fans are in the midst of figuring out an unpredictable pennant race between the Detroit Tigers and the Minnesota Twins. It’s no brainteaser in the final week or day of the regular season, which normally comprises of the true meaning of baseball.
It’s not a tight, tense or laborious race in the AL Central, a division that has earned buzz and much publicity. You can predict a winner before the final week of the regular season. And if you can’t predict a legitimate winner, well just watch an uninterested and over-hyped contest startle us without a wondrous finish.
Thus far, the Tigers consist of deadly fangs, worthy of attacking and disappointing teams if they advance in postseason play. With breathing room, it makes sense believing the Tigers are favorites to clinch the division title.
Although the Twins know there’s much at stake, keeping up the pace isn’t enough to make it intense or elusive. It might seem like anyone’s race, but the Tigers have the edge by controlling its destiny.
Face it baseball is a game of momentum and optimism. The only way things can collapse in Detroit and besmirch a magical number, will be unraveling shockingly by losing the remaining games. They haven’t been able to put away the Twins, with their lackluster performance in the last few weeks.
But it’s not difficult declaring the Tigers divisional champs, though the last few weeks have been shaky, erratic and left us guessing. Still, the Tigers clearly have the necessary tools to oust the Twins.
Although Detroit has a talented unit presenting enough specifics, such as capabilities, questions remain if they can employ capacity when winning is meaningful. Of late, the Tigers have played like a team with depth, winning four consecutive games, forcing the Twins to tally a win each night.
Needing a fair amount of wins to stay alive is a solicitous task, and pivotal for reaching the postseason. And it’s vital the Twins notch as many victories before the season comes to a close.
But a team losing nine of 12 games isn’t dazzling. Before the four-game win streak came into play, it was more painful, witnessing talented stars frail when steep investments were contrived for building a postseason contender.
When it comes to a team spending aggressively to assemble the proper ingredients for advancing to the next level, you’d like to imagine growth and successive prevalence, and imagine the Tigers thriving and contending with teams, such as the Los Angeles Angels, New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.
After getting rid of the underperformers, the Tigers were inevitably considered as a top-notch threat in the American League, and superior enough to advance into the World Series.
As it seemed difficult suggesting when the Twins were hitting better remarkably with catching sensation Joe Mauer, who won the batting title a few years ago, the Tigers pitching is flawless and could pose trouble for opposing teams in October.
But the Twins uniquely have a rare breed in Mauer. Dominating the batting column very seldom happens for catchers, but considering that Mauer is a singular individual many haven’t seen until he fostered into stardom, gifted power is bounded to happen in a league that now develops unforeseen players reaching a peak before reaching their prime.
Mauer is obviously one of the great sluggers in the game, and you can argue that the MVP nominations should be bestowed to the most lovable catcher in the game. He’s the greatest icon in Minnesota, where he grew up and thrives as a primary superstar.
Many living in the town imitates his stylish features by wearing fake sideburns, endorsing his abilities to hit sharply and better than .500. That includes his teammates Justin Morneau, a home run expert, Michael Cuddyer, a cannon-arm thrower and respectable hitter, and Jason Kubel, who deposit shots into the stands.
That tests wills, forcing the Tigers to strive more. That means they’ll likely play with diligence, even if the final game is needed to determine faith. It requires more work, after clearly putting themselves in a tough situation, against a team that hasn’t been bothered with mediocrity. It requires huge contributes from a productive pitching rotation, which has been a cornerstone riding a .500 win percentage and first place standings.
This season alone, the Tigers are efficient when Justin Verlander, 26, throws heaters, when Rick Porcello intimidates opponents with his wicked four-seam fastball or when Edwin Jackson starts games.
If they managed, without mismanaging or collapsing, the Tigers powerful rotation might be a hassle for most teams. In recent memory, cogent pitching rotations are imperative for making an urgent statement leading up to the fall classic.
Meanwhile, Verlander’s near-perfect outing could signify and valid the identity of the Tigers. Being the ace, he’s a centerpiece to their postseason success. But he was long overdue, having to fix and make minor adjustments with his pitching mechanics and command.
Thursday night, Verlander recovered from two substandard starts. Entering the game 0-2 with a 4.87 ERA in his last three starts, he was expected to redeem himself from poor quality starts.
And he, indeed, pitched well striking out 11 in seven innings, improving and extending his dominance against the futile Cleveland Indians, who doesn’t have enough firepower to contend in a blown out of portion, lopsided battle between the Twins and Tigers.
Perhaps the difference between an uncontested pennant chase, has to be the Tigers well-rounded dynamics, while the Twins are hanging on, courtesy of power hitting by a conscious batting lineup.
Sure, there’s Carlos Guillein, whose heroics and steadfast discipline when batting, bolstered the Tigers. But it has been relatively disappointing contributes from Miguel Cabrera, Curtis Granderson and Magglio Ordonez.
At perfect timing, Cabrera is starting to gain power, which was missing throughout a struggling season. A two-run homer the other night is a way to reestablish assurance and rhythm with 10 games remaining. The magic number currently stands at eight, which makes it harder on the Twins.
As long as the Tigers continue winning most of the remaining games, they’ll clinch a berth and the divisional title. They’ll celebrate as a team, pop the champagne corks and embrace a divisional crown, entering the postseason with a sense of urgency and confidence.
Part of the urgency and successful win streaks are made possible by the savvy manager Jim Leyland, who has excelled mightily in the managerial role. He prepares his team for moments as gratifying as this one, and over the years, he has been fortunate to manage gifted pitchers. So he, indeed, knows what is at stake, and understands what the Tigers must accomplish in the upcoming weeks.
As for Twins’ manager Ron Gardenhire, now might be a perfect time to wave goodbye. The Tiger fangs are too much to handle.