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.

There is, indeed, an MLB-to-Portland group

Associated Press
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On Monday, Baseball America reported that MLB is prepared to expand to Portland and Montreal. We talked about that at length yesterday. One of the most common responses to that piece has been “Portland? Really?”

There’s good reason for that response. Baseball-to-Portland has been talked about for years, but there has never been any real traction. Past initiatives have failed, significant public funding for a stadium seems to be a political impossibility and, heck, Portland wasn’t even interested in keeping its Triple-A team, turning its stadium into a much more successful soccer venue and not missing the Beavers all that much.

It would seem, however, that the reports are not mere speculation and there is a genuine baseball-to-Portland initiative afoot once again. From the Oregonian:

On Tuesday, former Trail Blazers broadcaster Mike Barrett confirmed to The Oregonian/OregonLive that he is part of the Portland group.

“I am officially involved with a campaign to bring Major League Baseball and a stadium development to Portland,” Barrett said. “There is also a formally organized, sophisticated and seasoned management group running this initiative. We will keep you fully apprised of any/all developments as this project progresses.”

One guy — a broadcaster no less — saying he’s part of a group is not exactly a major needle-mover, of course. But it does contrast with past Portland initiatives that have been well-publicized grassroots affairs. While those may have been more broad-based and while their public nature may have provided some refreshing transparency, the simple fact of professional sports ownership in the 21st century is that well-monied groups who play things close to the vest are more likely to make waves. We’re in an age when technocratic hedge fund-type guys make things happen in this arena, not in an age when flamboyant public personalities do.

None of which is to say that baseball in Portland is a lock or that expansion anywhere is a short term proposition. It’s just to note that, yeah, there is a bit more going on, it seems, than just pointing at a map and saying “yeah, a team would make sense here.”