The bubbly could be flying at Kauffman Stadium on Monday night for the Detroit Tigers, as they hope to clinch up the AL Central title at the expense of the Kansas City Royals in their final series of the season.
Detroit has been helped by the swoon of the Chicago White Sox, and the truth of the matter is that it will be spending this game watching the scoreboard as well to see what is going on with the Sox. At least the Tigers have guaranteed themselves a 163rd game, as they need just one win to win or one Chicago loss to get into the playoffs as the AL Central champ. Rick Porcello will take to the mound on Monday, and that means that he could be the man who gets the ball in the second game of the playoffs, assuming that’s what it comes down to for the Tigers. He has just nine wins this year, but he pitched well in big spots last season. The real test though, will be for Miguel Cabrera, who is chasing the American League Triple Crown. He has a .02 lead on Joe Mauer for the best batting average in the game, is tied with Josh Hamilton and one up on Edwin Encarnacion in home runs, and probably has already comfortably won the RBI title this year with 136, 11 ahead of Hamilton.
The Royals have had another frustrating season, but at least they are going to finish third in the AL Central with a fighting chance to improve again next year. They have gone 36-42 thus far here at Kauffman Stadium, which at least has to cast a bit of a shadow of doubt in this series. The chance to not lose 90 games is important for a young, building team as well, and that would require taking two out of three from a team that is going to be in the postseason. It’s up to Bruce Chen to get the job done on Monday. He is having a seemingly prototypical Bruce Chen type of year, going 11-13 with a 5.13 ERA. Batters are knocking him around to the tune of a .278 batting average, and he is giving up far too many home runs (31 in 186 innings of work). Still, 11 wins is something great for Chen, who knows that he is towards the end of his career that has goes back to 1998 and has covered stops in 10 different cities.
Porcello has been a dud this year, and we have a real appreciation for what Chen has done for the Royals since 2010. If this really is the last time that we are going to see Chen on the bump, it would be a lot nicer to see him finish his career at 72-71 than 71-72. Kansas City 7 – Detroit 4