Tigers shut down by White Sox, AL Central deadlocked

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With one day left in the season, the AL Central is all tied up. The White Sox and Freddy Garcia saw to that by limiting the Tigers to just one extra-base hit in a 5-1 victory on Saturday. It followed the Twins’ 5-4 win over the Royals earlier in the day.
Garcia was terrific against his former team, allowing just five singles through seven scoreless innings. The Tigers threatened in the eighth, when Adam Everett doubled — giving Detroit its first extra-base hit of the series — and Curtis Granderson singled to knock Garcia out of the game. Tony Pena came in and immediately allowed an RBI single. However, he got out of the jam from there, as Magglio Ordonez lined out and Miguel Cabrera delivered a double-play ball.
The Tigers’ decision not to go with Justin Verlander on three days’ rest came back to haunt them, as Alfredo Figaro pitched just 1 1/3 innings as the replacement starter. Incredibly, Tigers manager Jim Leyland brought in his lefty specialist to face one batter with the bases loaded and one out in the second. The move mostly worked, as Fu-Te Ni generated an RBI groundout and Armando Galarraga escaped the inning from there. Gallaraga, though, allowed two runs over the following two innings, and the White Sox had done all of the damage they’d need.
Unfortunately, that obscured some stellar work from 2008 first-round pick Ryan Perry, who threw a career-high three innings without allowing a run.
With just Sunday’s action remaining, a one-game playoff on Tuesday now appears destined. The Tigers will start Verlander on normal rest tomorrow, while the White Sox counter with John Danks. Detroit would have both Rick Porcello and Edwin Jackson available on Tuesday, though it’d be Porcello’s turn to start.
The Twins made a surprising change after Saturday’s game, announcing that Carl Pavano would start Sunday’s game on short rest. He’s being picked over left-hander Brian Duensing, who beat the Royals by allowing two runs over five innings on Aug. 22. He’s 5-1 with a 2.73 ERA in nine starts this season. Pavano is 4-4 with a 4.50 ERA in 11 starts as a Twin and 3-3 with a 6.63 ERA in six starts against the Royals this season.

MLB may introduce “tacky” baseballs in 2018

ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 25: Baseballs sit in the St. Louis Cardinals dugout prior to a game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on April 25, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by David Welker/Getty Images)
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Jeff Passan of Yahoo has an interesting report today. MLB and Rawlings are developing a new baseball. It will have a tacky surface on the leather, allowing pitchers to get a better grip without having to resort to sunscreen and rosin and pine tar and stuff. Substances which, in theory, are for grip but which are really used by pitchers to doctor the ball, with MLB and opposing hitters mostly looking the other way.

They tested the new balls in the Arizona Fall League last year and Passan talks to a couple of the pitchers who used the ball. More testing would be required, though, so we’re not likely to see the new balls until at least 2018.

As you know, baseball players love change, so I’m sure we won’t hear another thing about the ball and its introduction will go off seamlessly.

Wait. It’ll still have seams. You know what I mean.

Here we go: Tim Tebow reports to Mets camp

PORT ST. LUCIE, FL - SEPTEMBER 20: Tim Tebow #15 of the New York Mets speaks at a press conference after a work out at an instructional league day at Tradition Field on September 20, 2016 in Port St. Lucie, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
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The first few days of spring training have been pretty quiet. Guys are going about their business and games are being played, but we haven’t had any news or controversy or silliness or anything fun like that. That’s about to change, however, as Tim Tebow has arrived at Mets camp.

Tebow, a non-roster invite, arrived at the Mets facility in Port St. Lucie, Florida this morning and, unlike every other non-roster invite, had a press conference. You may be surprised to learn that he’s in great shape, is excited to get going and wants to improve steadily each day.

The plan for Tebow is to be a part of the minor league camp, not the major league one, so he’s not going to be as visible at workouts as you might expect. He will be playing in some major league spring training games, however, at least until we get deeper into spring training, after which you’d assume that veterans and players with a real shot of making the big club will play longer.

In the meantime, you can buy Tebow shirts. But not Curtis Granderson ones, it seems: