Tigers beat Athletics, clinch American League Central crown

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The Phillies may have been the first team to punch their ticket to the postseason earlier this week, but the Tigers became the first team to wrap up their division late last night.

Behind yet another strong performance by Doug Fister, the Tigers defeated the Athletics 3-1 to clinch the American League Central. Detroit is back in the playoffs for the first time since 2006, when they won the American League Wild Card and lost to the Cardinals in the World Series. This is their first division title since 1987, when they played in the American League East.

Fister allowed three hits over eight innings of one-run ball in the victory, striking out five and walking none. Jose Valverde pitched a scoreless ninth inning for his 45th save in 45 chances.

Fister is now 6-1 with a 2.12 ERA and 46/5 K/BB in 59 1/3 innings over nine starts since being acquired from the Mariners before the trade deadline. We all know Justin Verlander has been out of his mind this season, but the Tigers suddenly have themselves a pretty formidable one-two punch for the playoffs.

Clayton Kershaw struggles with control, walks six Marlins

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Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw entered Wednesday night’s start against the Marlins without having issued a walk in his previous three starts. In fact, his last walk came on April 3 when he issued a free pass to Paul Goldschmidt with the bases empty and two outs in the bottom of the first inning. All told, Kershaw was on a streak of 26 walk-less innings before he took the mound at home to take on the Marlins.

Kershaw started off Wednesday in character, striking out the side in the first inning. He issued a walk in a tough second inning, but escaped without allowing a run. Kershaw walked two more in the third and again danced out of danger. In the fourth, Kershaw walked Lewis Brinson to load the bases with no outs and — you guessed it — didn’t end up allowing a run. His errant control finally came back to bite him in the fifth when Kershaw issued back-to-back two-out walks, then served up a three-run home run to Miguel Rojas down the left field line. His night was done when he completed the inning. Five innings, three runs, five hits, six walks, seven strikeouts, 112 pitches.

The six walks Kershaw issued over five innings marked his first six-walk outing since April 7, 2010 when he issued six free passes to the Pirates in 4 2/3 innings. The only other time he walked as many was on August 3, 2009 against the Brewers in a four-plus inning outing. Kershaw hasn’t even walked five batters in an outing recently — the last time was September 23, 2012 against the Reds.