Admit it, as a fan of the Tigers, you’ve taken great pleasure in watching the Indians go 42-60 and slowly fall out of contention after their unexpected 30-15 start. You also thoroughly enjoyed the stretch of four Ubaldo Jimenez starts where he went 1-3 with a 7.29 ERA immediately after the Indians decimated their farm system to acquire him (though he’s pitched infinitely better in his four more recent starts).
Tonight, however, will be a different story, as I’ll be part of a large group of Tiger fans rooting for the Indians to beat the Twins and keep Detroit’s magic number at one. Since the Tigers are playing in the Pacific time zone, the Indians’ game in Minnesota will start a couple hours earlier. If they lose, the division race would be officially over, most likely before the Tigers have a shot at clinching a playoff spot on their own. If Detroit loses as well, even with the division in the bag, how much of a party will it be?
Anyone want to see Detroit enter the playoffs like that? All things considered, I have to think not many. We should be thankful that the Tigers will be back in the playoffs no matter how they clinch a spot, of course, but a post-game celebration complete with elated players soaked in a gross yet satisfying mixture of champagne and sweat would be a lot more fun. Outside of Justin Verlander’s two no-hitters, there hasn’t been a lot to celebrate around here since 2006. A Cleveland win would mean something a bit more special to look forward to for those Tigers fans dedicated enough to stay up to watch a game that will start when it should be finishing. Granted, there will more than likely be a celebration in the clubhouse, but it would be a little awkward rushing the mound after a loss or even a victory hours after actually clinching. I want the full experience.
If you’re with me in rooting for the Indians to beat the Twins (rooting against the Twins shouldn’t be a problem for anyone), the pitching match-up looks favorable. Jimenez, 3-1 with a 3.12 ERA and a 26/11 K/BB ratio over his last four starts, will be on the mound for Cleveland. Meanwhile, Kevin Slowey will be toeing the rubber for Minnesota. The Twins are 0-11 this year when Slowey pitches (including six games in which he relieved between April and May). Since returning from a long stint in the minors, he has started five games; he’s posted a 6.67 ERA in those five starts, and has taken the loss in each.
We only need this one victory from the Tribe over a listless Twins team that hasn’t had much of anything go their way all year. Really, Cleveland, is that too much to ask?