Tigers shut down by White Sox, AL Central deadlocked

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With one day left in the season, the AL Central is all tied up. The White Sox and Freddy Garcia saw to that by limiting the Tigers to just one extra-base hit in a 5-1 victory on Saturday. It followed the Twins’ 5-4 win over the Royals earlier in the day.
Garcia was terrific against his former team, allowing just five singles through seven scoreless innings. The Tigers threatened in the eighth, when Adam Everett doubled — giving Detroit its first extra-base hit of the series — and Curtis Granderson singled to knock Garcia out of the game. Tony Pena came in and immediately allowed an RBI single. However, he got out of the jam from there, as Magglio Ordonez lined out and Miguel Cabrera delivered a double-play ball.
The Tigers’ decision not to go with Justin Verlander on three days’ rest came back to haunt them, as Alfredo Figaro pitched just 1 1/3 innings as the replacement starter. Incredibly, Tigers manager Jim Leyland brought in his lefty specialist to face one batter with the bases loaded and one out in the second. The move mostly worked, as Fu-Te Ni generated an RBI groundout and Armando Galarraga escaped the inning from there. Gallaraga, though, allowed two runs over the following two innings, and the White Sox had done all of the damage they’d need.
Unfortunately, that obscured some stellar work from 2008 first-round pick Ryan Perry, who threw a career-high three innings without allowing a run.
With just Sunday’s action remaining, a one-game playoff on Tuesday now appears destined. The Tigers will start Verlander on normal rest tomorrow, while the White Sox counter with John Danks. Detroit would have both Rick Porcello and Edwin Jackson available on Tuesday, though it’d be Porcello’s turn to start.
The Twins made a surprising change after Saturday’s game, announcing that Carl Pavano would start Sunday’s game on short rest. He’s being picked over left-hander Brian Duensing, who beat the Royals by allowing two runs over five innings on Aug. 22. He’s 5-1 with a 2.73 ERA in nine starts this season. Pavano is 4-4 with a 4.50 ERA in 11 starts as a Twin and 3-3 with a 6.63 ERA in six starts against the Royals this season.

Astros clinch postseason berth with 11-3 win over Angels

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No surprise here: The Astros are headed back to the postseason to defend their title following a landslide 11-3 win over the Angels on Friday. This figures to be their third playoff run since 2015, though they have yet to wrap up the AL West with a division title.

First baseman Yuli Gurriel led the charge on Friday, smashing a grand slam in the first inning and tacking on a two-run homer in the second and RBI single in the fifth to help the Astros to a seven-run lead. The Angels eventually returned fire, first with Mike Trout‘s 418-foot homer in the sixth, then with an RBI hit from Francisco Arcia in the seventh, but they couldn’t close the gap in time to overtake the Astros.

On the mound, right-hander Gerrit Cole clinched his 15th win of the year after holding the Angels to seven innings of three-run, 12-strikeout ball. His sixth strikeout of the night — delivered on an 83.1-MPH knuckle curveball to Kaleb Cowart — also marked the 1,000th strikeout of his career to date. He was backed by flawless performances by lefty reliever Tony Sipp and rookie right-hander Dean Deetz, both of whom turned in scoreless innings as the offense barreled toward an 11-3 finish with Jake Marisnick‘s sac bunt and George Springer‘s three-run shot in the eighth.

Despite having qualified for the playoffs, the Astros still carry a magic number of 6 as they look to clinch a third straight division title. They’re currently up against the Athletics, who entered Friday’s contest against the Twins just four games back of first place in the AL West.