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Can Miguel Cabrera clinch the first Triple Crown since 1967? That's the only real question in tonight's otherwise meaningless game between the Tigers and Royals.
Detroit Tigers (87-74) at Kansas City Royals (72-89)
Time/Place: 8:00 p.m., Kaufmann Stadium
SB Nation Blog: Royals Review
Mendoza has put together a decent second half, pitching his way to a 5-4 record and 4.24 ERA since the All-Star Break. His September has been even better (1-0, 3.68 ERA), though his FIP is a less-than-impressive 4.60 this month. He was decent in his last start against the Tigers, allowing two earned runs in seven innings. However, he was going against a locked-in Doug Fister that day and didn't really have much of a chance. If it weren't for a late comeback against the Tigers bullpen, Mendoza would have been saddled with his 10th loss of the season.
Marte probably won't last more than a couple innings tonight, but I'll still give him his full due. This is his first career start, but he has logged 16 appearances out of the bullpen for the Tigers over the past two seasons. He has struck out an impressive 20 hitters in his 22 2/3 career innings, a rate that shouldn't be too unsustainable for one game in which he'll be able to air it out all he wants. His walk rate was a little elevated (3.7 per 9 innings) in 18 appearances for Triple-A Toledo this season, so don't be surprised to see a few walks from Marte.
If Cabrera weren't chasing history, I would want Jim Leyland to have Avisail Garcia dress in Cabrera's uniform and see if anyone noticed. Other than that -- and the whole Triple Crown thing, of course -- this game is meaningless. Maybe Brennan Boesch can hit a homer tonight and somehow develop his red-hot power stroke just in time for the playoffs. I wouldn't plan on it though.
Two words: Triple Crown.
One last thing
I want to thank everyone who has read and commented on the game previews this season. I sincerely enjoy doing these every day and I think that they set us apart from many of the other baseball communities on this network. Any and all feedback you have, especially on tweaks or adjustments I can make for next season, are much appreciated.