Tigers job isn't done until they clinch division


DETROIT – The Tigers clinched their fourth straight trip to the postseason, but their job isn't done with three games left in the regular season.

They have to clinch the American League Central.

Yes, they enter Friday night with a two-game lead over the Kansas City Royals. But winning the division is not a done deal.

The last-place Minnesota Twins have played the Tigers tough. The two teams have split the first 16 games. We've seen the Tigers lose the division to a last place team on the last weekend of the season at home before.

In 2006, the last-place Royals swept a four-game series and the Tigers ended up with a wild card spot instead of a division flag.

This time around, however, the wild card is just a one-game playoff. Anybody can win one game. You don't want to play in that game if you can avoid it.

For sure, it would be a blow to the Tigers who were supposed to run away with this division and win the Central for the fourth straight season. This is a team was built to--and expected to--win the World Series. The division crown yields the smoothest path to the Fall Classic.

Fans won't settle for another playoffs berth. They want a the Tigers to win their first World Series title since 1984.

Jeter Makes Michigan Proud

You didn't have to be in Da Bronx Thursday night. Or be a New York Yankee fan, for that matter, to appreciate what Derek Jeter did.

In his final game at Yankee Stadium, Jeter, in his final at-bat there, delivered a game-winning RBI single in the bottom of the ninth, giving the Yankees a 6-5 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.

"Everyone dreams of hitting a home run in the World Series or getting a game-winning hit," Jeter told the media after the game. "But I was happy with a broken bat and a run scored in the seventh inning. I was happy with that being the end. But I'll take this one."

Tigers fans delivered too during Jeter's last stop in Motown. When he came up to bat in the top of the first inning at Comerica Park, the sellout crowd of 40,488 stood as one and cheered long and loud. It was a suitable-for-framing moment for Jeter, who was born in New Jersey, but grew up in Kalamazoo.

"There's only one other guy in baseball history that I had more respect for - Stan Musial and Derek Jeter," Tigers' Hall of Famer Al Kaline said. "Because they are both class, class, class, class all the way."

And what Tigers fans did was classy, too.

Lions in New Jersey

The Lions are coming off an impressive victory over the Green Bay Packers, beating Aaron Rodgers for the first time in a game he started and finished. Rodgers had been 9-0 against the Lions.

The Jets were unimpressive in their home loss to the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football.

It appeared as if the Lions were in position to get off to a surprising 3-1 start.
They take on the New York Jets (1-2) on the road.

Except, it's the Lions.

The Lions have had trouble winning on the road for more than a decade now.

Worse, the Lions aren't at full strength.

The defense got a bad blow when MLB Stephen Tulloch was lost for the season after tearing his ACL after celebrating his sack on Rodgers. Plus, the secondary is banged up as well.

The biggest concern may be that All-World WR Calvin Johnson didn't practice the last two days with an ankle injury.

The defense has played well thus far this season, the same can't be said about the offense.

After blowing out the New York Giants in the opener, the Lions' offense has stalled.

They scored just seven points against the Carolina Panthers. Against Green Bay, QB Matthew Stafford had no TDs, but two interceptions and a fumble.

The one thing the Jets have is defense, so this will be a big game for the Lions.

My pick: Lions 17, Jets 13.