It wasn’t supposed to happen this way. These games were supposed to matter.
In a way, I guess they still do. The Twins, having already wrapped up the AL Central crown are tying vying for home field throughout the American League Playoffs, so certainly there’s still something to play for. But this series was to have been a showdown for the top of the division for the Tigers, a dream that slipped away during a late-July swoon.
With no pressure remaining, the Tigers have a chance to play spoiler one more time. They can, with a couple of victories this weekend, do some damage to Minnesota’s chances of becoming the top seed. Another bonus is that at least we won’t have to watch Minnesota celebrate in our house, that champagne has already dried up.
Instead, we are treated to three more games at home, nothing more, but nothing less. For some Tigers, these will be the final three home games at Comerica Park. As unpleasant as the thought is, there is a very real possibility that this is our last chance to see some of our favorites in the home whites.
But on to more pleasant thoughts. Two of the very best in the AL square off tonight when Justin Verlander matches up with Francisco Liriano. While neither of these guys are probably serious contenders for the Cy Young award, both will garner votes during the balloting.
Verlander turned in a great performance in his last start, going the distance in a win against Chicago. He gave up three runs, but all of them came in one inning and he dominated the Sox throughout the other eight. At 17-9 and with a 3.46 ERA, Verlander is no fun to face. He needs just two strikeouts to reach 200 for the season.
While Verlander has allowed just 14 home runs on the season, a total that would represent a career-low, Liriano has done him one better. Well, make that nine better. Entering play tonight, Liriano has allowed all of five long balls this year. Five. At 14-8 with a 3.44 ERA, the southpaw has turned in an excellent year and finally seems to be all the way back from his 2007 Tommy John surgery. It has already been announced that Liriano will start the first playoff game for the Twins.
Liriano has had an up and down history against Detroit and this year he is 1-2 and holds an ERA of 5.16 in four starts. In two games at Comerica, Liriano is 1-1 with a 6.52.
Verlander has faced the Twins three times, splitting two decisions. His 2.65 ERA in those games is encouraging and he’s allowed just two earned over 11 innings at home against the Twins this year.
With all the great pitching I’m expecting at Comerica tonight, the final score will probably end up at something like 11-9. If it does, I’m blaming Eddie Bonine.