Thanks to a surge over the last week, the Detroit Tigers are close to making the last few games of the regular season meaningless.
Up three games on the Chicago White Sox in the American League Central with three to play, the Tigers have clinched at least a tie for the division. The bigger drama now is if Miguel Cabrera can capture the triple crown. He'll take his cuts at the host Kansas City Royals and Bruce Chen on Monday.
Detroit has won six of its last seven to open up the lead over the White Sox, but Cabrera has cooled a bit, going 7-for-34 (.206) with one home run and five RBIs over the last nine games. The slump has dropped his batting average to .325, just ahead of Minnesota’s Joe Mauer (.323) for the lead. Cabrera is tied with Texas’ Josh Hamilton at 43 home runs and holds a comfortable lead in RBIs with 136. The Royals don’t appear to be in any position to stop Cabrera or the rest of the Tigers’ lineup. Kansas City has dropped seven of its last eight and allowed 15 runs to the lowly Cleveland Indians on Sunday.
Pitching matchup: Tigers RH Rick Porcello (9-12, 4.68 ERA) vs. Royals LH Bruce Chen (11-13, 5.13)
Porcello could be pitching for a spot in the postseason rotation. He appeared to be the odd man out before Max Scherzer's shoulder injury and could still be on the outside after failing to complete six innings in each of his last five starts. The right-hander has allowed 12 runs (nine earned) in 14 innings over his last three starts and has not won since Aug. 7. Porcello allowed four runs and seven hits in four innings to Kansas City on Wednesday.
Chen lost to Detroit on Tuesday despite allowing only two runs in 6 2/3 innings. The veteran left-hander has posted two straight solid outings after a rough stretch at the beginning of the month. Chen lost to the Tigers twice earlier in the season but also posted his best start of 2012 against them, surrendering four hits in eight scoreless innings to pick up a win on Aug. 29.
The Tigers have not made the postseason in back-to-back years since 1934 and 1935.
Royals 3B Mike Moustakas left Sunday’s game with tightness in his left groin. He expects to play Monday.
Cabrera is batting .325 with 16 home runs and 60 RBIs in 88 career games against the Royals. He is 11-for-29 (.379) with three homers against Chen.