The Red Birds helped us out on Friday night to open September up with a win and run the overall winning streak to seven games. From one Central division to another we go this week. There’s a decent shot the playoff picture in the Central version of the AL race will get clearer in these next three days. There’s probably a better chance that it doesn’t, though. And I don’t think many people will care if the great race between Kansas City and Detroit prolongs for the last few weeks of the season. Jeremy Guthrie and Justin Verlander go at each other in game one from Detroit.
I didn’t think I’d be writing about the Tigers pretty much needing to win this series now after Detroit landed David Price at the end of July. But Kansas City has opened up a two-game lead in the Central and have been pretty much a run-away freight train ever since about a week before the Tigers made that big move to get the former Cy Young. The Royals have gone 31-12 over their last 43 games and just haven’t given the Tigers much of a chance to gain any ground in the division. KC picked up another game over the weekend with a series win at Yankee Stadium and the Giants taking two out of three in Detroit.
If Kansas City won’t lose to the rest of the league, the Tigers’ only chance may be to beat them themselves. These two teams will play six times from now until the end of the regular season, but it begins today when Justin Verlander takes the mound for Detroit. Verlander’s season has been well documented. Nude photos circling the Internet, tossing baseballs to Kate Upton at Yankee Stadium and giving up a lot of runs. In fact, no one has given up more than Verlander’s 105 runs this season. The talk has constantly been about what he can do when he wants to “turn it on.” Well, today will have postseason intensity. And if Verlander can’t turn on whatever it is he needs to have on to pitch well today, I’m not sure Brad Ausmus will trust him to start a playoff game if the Tigers even do get there. People have been afraid to even consider the possibility Verlander might not get a postseason start if he can’t clean up his act down the stretch, but he really might be pitching for more than just a chance to narrow the gap on Kansas City. I’m willing to give hime one more shot against an unintimidating offense at home.
By that, I mean I’m going to play the under. Jeremy Guthrie isn’t great, but you generally know what you’ll get from him. All he needs to do is throw five or six innings and give up four runs. If he does that, with Kansas City’s bullpen and a good start on the other side from Verlander, this under should come in. And even if one side gets hit hard, there’s an excellent chance to still push with an even 9.0. I like this as a safe play to keep the winning streak intact.
Free Pick: Under 9 (-120)
YTD: 35-23-2 +7.31