Unfortunately, neither this past weekend nor the last 10 games really clarified whether or not the Tigers are truly in the AL Central race. Yes, the numbers say they are. 6 1/2 games out is not an insurmountable lead in the last week of July. But it's also a kind of limbo, where they're close, but maybe not quite close enough. Four games against an Indians team that's sold off a few of its best players (Tiger Killer Casey Blake is gone!) might help them out , however.
Kenny Rogers has won his last two starts, and if not for Mark Grudzielanek and a two-hour rain delay, his numbers against Kansas City last Tuesday (one run and four hits over six innings) would've looked even better. Rogers has pitched well against Cleveland over the past couple of seasons, and allowed just one earned run over seven innings in his lone start versus the Tribe this year.
Will this be Paul Byrd's last start in an Indians uniform? Cleveland is trying to deal him before the deadline, but his performance this year hasn't helped his trade value. Byrd has pitched well against Detroit this season, however, so maybe the Tribe will get a nice showcase before the deadline. In two starts vs. Detroit, Byrd is 1-0 with a 3.46 ERA.
And for all the career obituaries that have been written for Todd Jones today, there's a better than good chance he'll pitch tonight for the Tigers. Fernando Rodney won't be available after throwing 42 pitches (!!) in two innings, and who knows when Joel Zumaya will be back? How's that tired shoulder feeling, Freddy Dolsi?
Let's Go Tribe has your SB Nation opposing view for this four-game series.