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.

Mets invite Tim Tebow to spring training

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Tim Tebow isn’t letting go of his major league dreams just yet. The former NFL quarterback is slated to appear with the Mets during spring training this year, extending what initially looked like an ill-fated career choice for at least one more season. Per the club’s official announcement on Friday, he’ll join a group of spring training invitees that includes top-30 prospects like Peter Alonso, P.J. Conlon, Patrick Mazeika and David Thompson.

Tebow, 30, hasn’t taken to professional baseball as gracefully as expected. He batted a cumulative .226/.309/.347 with eight home runs and a .656 OPS in 486 plate appearances for Single-A Columbia and High-A St. Lucie in 2017. While that wasn’t enough to compel the Mets to give the aging outfielder a big league tryout, there’s no denying that Tebow brought substantial benefit to their minor league affiliates — in the form of increased attendance figures and ticket sales, that is.

Even after the Mets were booted from the NL East race last September, they resisted the idea of promoting Tebow for a late-season attendance boost of their own. That’s not to say they’re planning on taking the same approach in 2018; Tebow will undoubtedly get his cup of coffee in the majors at some point, but for now, a Grapefruit League tryout is likely as close as he’ll ever get to playing with the team’s big league roster on an everyday basis.