The storyline was laid out perfectly. All the Detroit Tigers had to do was follow it. But they don't do so well with that.
Sometimes, that's not a bad thing. If the Tigers simply followed the path that was drawn out for them before the season, they wouldn't be playing for an AL Central division title. But this afternoon, with a sellout Comerica Park ready to celebrate, it was most certainly a disappointment.
Detroit had a chance to score more runs on Scott Baker in the first inning, but stranded two runners on base. They took a 1-0 lead on a RBI single by Gerald Laird, but Baker didn't allow anything else from there. And one run wasn't nearly enough offense with the way the Tigers pitched this afternoon.
The Twins jumped on Nate Robertson in the third, as three singles, a hit batsmen, and a sacrifice fly resulted in three runs scored. That turned out to be a lead Minnesota never gave up. Denard Span drove in another run in the fourth, and a three-run margin was plenty against a Tigers offense that had no spark.
But the Tigers still arguably had a chance while down by three. At least they did until the eighth inning. Casey Fien got two outs, but also put two runners on. Bobby Seay came in to face Span, but walked him on six pitches. Seay probably should've been taken out from there. If the idea was to keep him in for Joe Mauer, well, Seay still had to get Orlando Cabrera out.
Seay didn't get Cabrera out, serving up a bases-clearing double that put the game out of reach. With the score 7-1, Jim Leyland apparently felt Seay might as well face Mauer. At the very least, he could end the inning, right? Not so much. Seay hung a slider out over the plate for Mauer to smack to the opposite field, driving in one more run.
The Tigers showed a faint pulse in their half of the inning, scoring two runs. But by then, it was far too little, much too late.
So the AL Central is still up for grabs. The Tigers had a chance to shut the door on the Twins, but instead let them get a foot in. And Minnesota very likely won't be taking it out. Detroit could still win the division by winning two of three this weekend from the White Sox. Or this could be resolved with a Tigers win and Twins loss. (Zack Greinke might be able to help Detroit out with that on Saturday.)
Detroit's gratification has been delayed, and who knows for how long? But hey, at least this weekend's last three games will be interesting.
Comment of the Day:
For Nate Robertson to remember he’s Nate Robertson…