In the basest form, we need to win 1 more game than Chicago over the last 10 to play a tie-breaker game. To win outright, we need to win 2 more games than Chicago over the last 10.
Detroit has four games at home (against KC). At home this year, we're 46-31 (.597); reasonably I think we can expect to win 3 of 4 here, with an outside shot at a sweep.
We then play our last six on the road (3 @ Minn; 3 @ KC). On the road, we're 34-41 (.453); Winning 4 of 6 would be the best I think we can do, given our putridness away from Comerica.
In total, I have us winning 7 of 10 to finish the year, with outside shots at 6 of 10 (if our road trip goes poorly) and 8 of 10 (if we can sweep KC at home). That means Chicago has to to 6-4 to end the season. How are they going to do that? Chicago has the following schedule:
3 home vs. Cleveland
4 home vs. Tampa Bay
3 road @ Cleveland
Cleveland, while playing us tough, hasn't really done so vs. anyone else lately. Chicago is 8-4 against Cleveland on the year, 4-2 at home and away. With six remaining, it would fit nicely to say that they'll go 4-2 against them, but I think 5-1 is more probable: Chicago, for all their troubles with KC, Detroit and playoff contenders, has seemingly taken care of business against the AL also-rans, the latter of which Cleveland qualifies as. Still, we're rooting for CLEVELAND over CHICAGO (duh)
So if Chicago can go 5-1 against Cleveland, Tampa will have to win 3 of 4 against Chicago IN CHICAGO. Tampa is a good team and is on a roll, but they are 5.5 out of 1st in the East (making it all but unwinnable for them), and 3.5 out of the Wild Card, with LAA and OAK both ahead of them in the standings. Initially, Tampa will have to win its next two games against Boston to stay within spitting distance of OAK/LAA before their series with Chicago Thur-Sun. TAMPA over BOSTON on Tuesday & Wednesday is who Tigers fans should be rooting for.
If Tampa can stay w/in 3 games of the WC lead, they should bring their best ball to Chicago. Tampa is behind Oakland in the WC by 3.5. Oakland plays @ Texas M-W this week. So, to keep Tampa in it, Oakland needs to lose at least 1 if not more. TEXAS over OAKLAND on Mon-Wed is who Tigers fans should be rooting for.
If Oakland goes into Texas and sweeps them, fear not, all hope isn't lost for Tampa to stay competitive in the WC race. They are behind Oakland by 3.5 for the 2nd WC, but are behind Baltimore by 4.5 for the 1st WC. So, Baltimore collapsing can keep Tampa alive (enough to play their hardest against Chicago). Baltimore plays Toronto four games over the next three games. TORONTO over BALTIMORE on Mon-Wed is who Tigers fans should be rooting for.
When Tampa does get to Chicago, they'll have the following pitching matchups:
Shields v. Quintana
Moore v. Floyd
Hellickson v. Sale
Price v. Liriano
On paper, I give Tampa the starts for Shields & Price, and I give Chicago the Hellickson start. That leaves Moore v. Floyd to decide if Tampa can take 3 of 4. Moore is 0-1 against the Sox this year, throwing 7 innings of four-hit, two-run ball against them in May. Hard luck 2-1 loss to Chris Sale. Moore has been roughed up by the Yankees in a September start, but otherwise has been 'okay'. Floyd hasn't seen Tampa this year, and held a Longoria-less Rays team to 11 for 50 hitting last year. Zobrist & Longoria both have a couple of HRs off Floyd in their careers.
Lastly, Detroit can just take care of their own business and beat Kansas City and Minnesota ten in a row, which would all but insure us of winning the division. Of course, I've put it last b/c it's also the most unlikely. Still, we have great pitching, a solid 1-4 in the line-up, and Delmon hitting fairly well (all 6-4-3 DPs, aside), so it's not inconceivable.
But for the love of all that is holy, TURN A ************* DOUBLE PLAY!