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.

Mike Napoli and Rays have “mutual interest” in a deal

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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times unloaded a lot of interesting news items about the Rays last night, including a report that the Rays might have “mutual interest” in a deal with free agent first baseman/DH Mike Napoli. The Rangers declined Napoli’s $11 million option earlier this month and owe the veteran infielder a $2.5 million buyout.

Napoli, 36, had a strange year in Texas. He turned in 29 home runs, good for 11th-most among AL hitters, but finished the year batting just .193/.285/.428 over 485 plate appearances. According to FanGraphs, his -0.5 fWAR was the worst mark of his career to date, but on the bright side, he should come cheap for a team looking to swap out their veterans come spring.

Of course, the specifics of the Rays’ offseason plan have yet to be divulged — or, by all accounts from Topkin, even decided on. The club could go the refurbishment route, changing out some of their higher-paid veterans for a mix of prospects and cheaper aging players; or they could opt for a full rebuild, which Topkin cautions against as it could have a negative effect on the financing of a new ballpark. Either way, the Rays figure to offload some of their bigger contracts this winter, and will need to decide if they want to retain Alex Colome, Chris Archer, Wilson Ramos, Evan Longoria and others before pursuing any other major free agents.