Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 9/12/13
At this time of year it doesn’t matter if it was a close game or a rout. A snoozer or absolutely riveting. All that matters is this: Did the Tigers get closer to clinching the American League Central? And when they know that the team closest to them already has lost — as the Cleveland Indians did in a day game to Kansas City 6-2 — the bottom-line question begs even louder for an answer. So here it is: Yes the Tigers won on Wednesday night 1-0 over the Chicago White Sox after the Tribe lost — and yes again they pushed the second-place Indians to 6½ games back after they had climbed to within 4½ games of first on Monday. With the best-case-scenario combination occurring two days in a row the Tigers have lowered their magic number for winning the American League Central to 11 games. That’s not quite knocking-on-the-door territory but at this rate from the magic number being 15 Monday the Tigers are marching toward their goal at a rapid rate. “We can’t be thinking about what Cleveland is doing” Joaquin Benoit said after his 18th save but his first since Aug. 24. “We have to concentrate on what we can control and take care of our own business.” Which the Tigers appear to be doing — sometimes with just enough. Omar Infante’s two-out single to left in the eighth drove in Prince Fielder from second with the game’s only run. But the Tigers outhit the Sox 10-5. “Omar is locked both physically and mentally right now” manager Jim Leyland said. “I don’t think there’s any question about that.” Four pitchers took care of the rest: Anibal Sanchez with 71⁄3 shutout innings; Jose Veras with a strikeout of Paul Konerko with two runners on in the eighth; Drew Smyly with a strikeout of Adam Dunn after Konerko’s strikeout — and Benoit with a scoreless ninth for the save. The Tigers now come home for their final home stand of the season — facing Kansas City Seattle and these same Chicago White Sox in that order following an off-day before finishing the regular season with a trip to Minnesota and Miami. Speaking of Kansas City the third-place Royals are only a half-game behind the Indians so the upcoming three-game series at Comerica Park will be their last chance to give themselves a last chance at making the Tigers fret. “Kansas City is really hot and really swinging the bats well” Leyland said. “They’re after it. They’re smelling that wild card — and even the division yet.”
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