Just messing around with this weekend’s big series between the Royals and the Tigers. I know that no matter what happens the loser of that division has a good shot of getting a Wild Card, but let’s forget about that for the moment. What I’m wondering is if the AL Central race can be put away this weekend, one way or the other.
I’m thinking the only scenario that does that is a Tigers sweep. They’re up by a half game right now. But let’s call it a one game lead for the Tigers since the Royals have to finish a suspended game on Monday with the Indians which they are losing 4-2 in the 10th inning. I guess they could win that still, but let’s play the odds and call it, practically speaking, a loss. That puts the Tigers up by one.
If the Royals sweep, they’ll have a two-game lead in the Central. If the Royals take two of three, it’s tied. If the Tigers take two of three, they have a two-game lead. Obviously a tie in the division come Sunday evening means nothing was decided. A two-game lead with a week to play is not fun, but it’s doable.
But if the Tigers sweep? That’s a four-game lead for Detroit with a week to play. And, historically speaking, that’s hard to overcome. I did some checking of some of the more obvious collapses in recent years and, while there have been some doozies, they have been collapses over weeks, not mere days. At least for the most part. I could not find a specific, seven-day collapses which erased four-game leads.
In 2009 the Tigers were up three games with four to go and lost in a game 163 playoff to the Twins. In 2012 the Rangers were up three and lost the division by 1. The Brewers in 1982 almost did. The Orioles trailed the Brewers by three games with four to play and won the first three of a four game series before falling short. The 1964 Phillies blew a 4.5 game lead in the space of five days, but that wasn’t quite at the end of the season as they were behind the Cardinals for the final six games of the year.
There may be some I’m missing, but even if I am, I think it’s safe to say that a four-game lead with a week to go is really, really darn hard to overcome. So it’s probably safe to say that if the Tigers sweep the Royals this weekend, the division is theirs.
Or it’s safe to say that my powers to jinx are really, really excellent.