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.

The Cubs live for another day, but death will come soon

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The Cubs had a nice night last night. Javier Baez finally broke his hitless streak with not one but two homers. Willson Contreras hit a nearly 500-foot homer. Jake Arrieta, possibly pitching for the last time as a Cub, dug down for a gutsy performance, pitching into the seventh inning, working around some walks to allow only one run while striking out nine.

After the game, Cubs players sounded hopeful notes about believing in themselves, taking them one game at a time, getting the series back to L.A. for a Game 6 and Game 7. They’re professional athletes who know better than any of us that to achieve a thing you have to believe you can achieve that thing, so it’d be dumb to expect anything else from them in this situation. Ballplayers, quite admirably, don’t sound a note of defeat until they are actually defeated.

But let’s be realistic there: they’re still a dead team walking.

  • They’re dead because, as we have been reminded oh so many times, only once in 35 tries has a team come back to win a seven game series in which they’ve found themselves down 0-3. That team did so because Dave Roberts worked some magic. Dave Roberts is working for the other team now.
  • They’re dead because their biggest weakness this postseason — their bullpen — is not going to have its best pitcher, Wade Davis, available today in Game 5 after throwing 48 pitches in Game 4.
  • They’re dead because while the Dodgers used five relievers last night, none of them were worked particularly hard and neither Brandon Morrow nor Kenley Jansen were used at all, allowing them to come in and work hard and heavy tonight if need be.
  • They’re dead because the man on the mound to start tonight’s game is Clayton Edward Kershaw. Yes, he has had some less-than-glory-filled moments in the postseason in recent years, but all of those have come at the tail end of starts, when his managers have left him in perhaps an inning too long. See the above bullet point — and Dave Roberts’ early hook in Game 1 — if you think that’ll be a problem tonight.

The Dodgers lost last night, yes, but it was their first loss in the postseason. All teams have lost at least one postseason game since it went to the three-round format, so it was likely inevitable that L.A. would drop one. Heck, maybe they’ll drop two before the NLCS is over, but they’re not going to drop the next three in a row.

Last night’s Cubs win was nice for them, but it only delayed the inevitable.