If the Tigers sweep the Royals, the AL Central race is over. I think.

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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.

Seager homers, Dodgers edge Brewers 4-2 in wild-card opener

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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Mookie Betts had two hits and an RBI, Corey Seager homered and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Milwaukee Brewers 4-2 in the opener of their NL wild-card series on Wednesday night.

The eight-time West champion Dodgers capitalized early in a bullpen game for the Brewers and can wrap up the best-of-three series on Thursday. Milwaukee – a playoff entrant despite a losing record – limped into the postseason as the No. 8 seed without its best starter and reliever, who are hurt.

The Dodgers took a 2-0 lead on a leadoff double by Betts and four walks by left-hander Brent Suter in the first, tying for the most walks by a pitcher in a single inning in postseason history. Betts scored when Will Smith drew a four-pitch walk with the bases loaded. Seager walked and scored on AJ Pollock‘s bases-loaded walk.

Suter needed 32 pitches to get out of the inning. The left-hander gave up three runs and three hits in 1 2/3 innings. His five walks were a career high, and he didn’t record a strikeout.

Chris Taylor doubled leading off the second and scored on Betts’ double, making it 3-0. Max Muncy walked with two outs and Ryan Braun caught Smith’s drive to right at the wall to end the inning, potentially saving three runs.

Braun winced as he hit the wall with his right shoulder. He was replaced by a pinch-hitter in the fifth.

The Dodgers could have inflicted more damage but were just 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position in the first two innings.

Milwaukee pitchers retired 10 straight Dodgers during one stretch.

Clinging to a one-run lead in the seventh, Seager went deep to dead-center off Freddy Peralta, who gave up just two homers during the shortened 60-game season. The Dodgers led the majors with 118 homers.

Closer Kenley Jansen walked pinch-hitter Jace Peterson with two outs in the ninth. Christian Yelich came to the plate as the potential tying run, but he struck out swinging to end the game. Jansen earned the save.

The Brewers closed to 3-2 on Orlando Arcia‘s two-strike, two-run homer with two outs in the fourth. Betts made an over-the-shoulder catch to deny Avisail Garcia with a runner on for the second out of the inning.

Milwaukee had the potential tying run on in the seventh with Yelich’s two-out double in the left-field corner. Tyrone Taylor popped up to third to end the inning.

The Brewers also threatened in the sixth. Avisail Garcia singled to right and was safe at second on first baseman Muncy’s fielding error. Muncy turned and scrambled into short right, trying to pick up the ball with a swooping motion, but it booted off his glove and rolled away. Julio Urias retired the next two batters to end the inning.

Urias got the victory, allowing three hits in three innings and striking out five.

Garcia had three hits and Yelich had two to lead the Brewers.

Pitching with a blister on his right index finger, Walker Buehler allowed two runs and three hits in four innings for Los Angeles. He struck out eight and walked two.

Milwaukee right-hander Corbin Burnes and reliever Devin Williams are missing this series with injuries that occurred in the last week of the season. Burnes has a strained left oblique and Williams has a sore right shoulder. Starter Brett Anderson also was left off the roster because of a blister issue.

WITHOUT WILLIAMS

Losing Williams is a big blow after he emerged as one of baseball’s top relievers this season and is a candidate for NL Rookie of the Year. He is 4-1 with a 0.33 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 27 innings. “It’s really crushing, honestly,” said Williams, who felt tightness after last weekend’s outing. “If we make it to the next round, I should be back. With the progress we’ve made in just a few days, it’s been encouraging.”

UP NEXT

The Dodgers give the ball to left-hander Clayton Kershaw (6-2, 2.16 ERA) for Game 2 on Thursday. He’s 9-11 with a 4.43 ERA in the postseason and lost his lone start in last year’s NLDS. The Brewers start right-hander Brandon Woodruff, who was 3-5 with a 3.05 ERA during the shortened season. He came up big last weekend with 10 strikeouts over eight shutout innings in a must-win game that helped Milwaukee eke out the No. 8 seed.

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