The Tigers' current series with the White Sox is, despite Jim Leyland's protestations, a huge one. Given both teams' recent difficulties — Detroit's pitching has been stellar, but the bats have gone quiet; Chicago's had some surprisingly tough opponents lately — it has been suggested that whoever wins this series will win the AL Central, which is probably the strongest division, overall, in baseball... and steal some important momentum. After all, last weekend the Sox swept the Tigers in three straight frustrating games in Chicago, including a shutout by the recently-hittable Jose Contreras.
So, what have the Detroiters done? Their starting pitching has given up exactly one (1) run in the first two games of this series, with stunning outings from Justin Verlander and Kenny Rogers. The bats came alive Monday night with seven runs, knocking Contreras out early, and even though they only scored four tonight, it was nice to see Marcus Thames club a homer, given his recent struggles at the plate. Even Fernando "Whoops, did I just give up a crucial home run?" Rodney had a solid two innings tonight, deftly escaping harm in the eighth by inducing three outs on two pitches.
Plus, Comerica Park has been jam-packed for these games; you can hear the place going nuts even over the radio broadcasts. As someone on espn.com recently remarked, "Would you want to go into Detroit with forty thousand delirious fans for a playoff game? I wouldn't, either." (ALDS tickets go on sale September 19, and if I can get one for a weekend game, I would give at least one of my arms to go.)
In conclusion, today they won their 81st game of the season, which means they're now assured of their first non-sub-.500 season since 1993. Even if they play mediocre baseball from here on out, they'll win a hundred games. It sure will be a far cry from that dismal late-September day in 2003 when my buddy Geoff and I had upper-deck seats in Comerica Park for the last day of the season, watching the Tigers play (and eventually defeat) the Twins as not to tie the 1962 Mets' record of 120 losses in a season. Simply amazing.
Oh yeah, and in other news the thesis revisions are going well, I have a hot date lined up, and I'm so strong that I managed to break my bedroom's blinds in two just by pulling on them. (Two of these things are true: try to guess which one isn't! I'll give you a hint... it's not what you think it is.)