Tigers beat Royals to clinch AL Central

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The White Sox emphatically defeated the Indians 11-0 on Monday night, but it wasn’t nearly enough. The Tigers came through to beat the Royals 6-3 to clinch the AL Central.

Miguel Cabrera went 4-for-5 with a homer in the win to move closer to the Triple Crown. He raised his average to .329, pushing him seven points ahead of Joe Mauer at .322 (Mauer went 1-for-5 tonight). The homer was his league-high 44th.

Jhonny Peralta also homered for Detroit. Prince Fielder went 4-for-5 in the cleanup spot.

Aiding the Tigers’ cause was Jeff Francoeur. He threw a big wrench into a potential sixth-inning  rally by hitting into a double play with the bases loaded and none out. He later singled in a run in the eighth, only to get thrown out trying to take second. It took the Royals out of an inning in which they should have had two on with two out.

The loss leaves Kansas City 71-89. Unless the Royals claim the next two games — perhaps a possibility with the Tigers having nothing to play for — they’ll lose 90 games for the fourth straight year and the 10th time since 2001.

Dominic Smith likely to start the season at Triple-A

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Following the Mets’ recent signing of first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports that fellow first baseman Dominic Smith is likely to start the season with Triple-A Las Vegas. That is contingent, of course, on the veteran Gonzalez’s ability to remain healthy, which isn’t a guarantee.

Smith, 22, struggled last season, batting .198/.262/.395 in 183 plate appearances. The Mets have also expressed concern about Smith’s conditioning. Puma reported in November that as a result of better dietary choices and a daily exercise regimen, Smith had already lost 11-12 pounds.

Gonzalez, 35, didn’t exactly have a stellar 2017 campaign. Along with battling back issues, Gonzalez hit .242/.287/.355 in 252 PA. That the Mets’ Plan A is to go with Gonzalez over Smith says something about their confidence in Smith.