video thumbnail

SEA@DET: Sanchez fans 10, holds Mariners to two runs

Not only did Saturday night's massive comeback victory move the Tigers one step closer to clinching their third straight American League Central title, but it also gave Detroit one last chance to do so in front of the home fans at Comerica Park.

Detroit enters Sunday's series finale against the White Sox with a six-game lead over the Indians with seven games to play, putting their magic number to clinch the division at two.

Sunday's game presents the final chance for the Tigers to celebrate a division crown in front of their home crowd, but they will need some help to make it happen. To lock up the Central, Detroit needs to not only finish off a sweep of the White Sox in its final home game of the regular season, but the Tigers also need the last-place Astros to defeat the Indians in Cleveland.

"I definitely think it would mean something," Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson said of the possibility to clinch at home. "If it doesn't happen, we're definitely going to keep trying to clinch, no matter what. At this point, you go out there and try to win. You really can't control what Cleveland does. But it would definitely be awesome to win it in front of your home crowd."

Following Sunday's home finale, the Tigers will hit the road for three games against the Twins before ending the regular season with a three-game Interleague set in Miami against the Marlins.

It's with that in mind that the Tigers will turn to Anibal Sanchez on Sunday to square off against White Sox rookie Erik Johnson.

Sanchez has been dominant nearly all season, but especially over the last two months. The right-hander is 7-0 with a 2.07 ERA over his last 11 starts, dating back to July 24. He settled for a no-decision on Tuesday against the Mariners, but he limited Seattle to just two runs over 6 1/3 innings while recording 10 strikeouts for the second straight start.

While the Tigers look to possibly nail down a division title behind Sanchez, the White Sox will call on one of the young pitchers whom they hope will help them return to contention in the coming years.

The club's top pitching prospect, Johnson earned his first big league victory on Monday in a 12-1 rout of the Twins. Now, the 23-year-old righty will look to get his record to .500 in Sunday's series finale.

After receiving little defensive support in his first two starts -- in which he allowed six unearned runs -- Johnson twirled six shutout innings against Minnesota. Though he worked his way into and out of a couple of jams, Johnson had plenty of run support to earn career victory No. 1.

"There's things to get better at, but overall it's good," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said of Johnson's latest performance. "When you don't give up any runs and you're kind of making your way through a lineup, that's improvement. I think we've played a little bit better behind him, but there's good stuff there."

White Sox: Young players getting their chance
With the White Sox sitting in last place entering the final week of the season, Ventura has continued to take advantage recently of the opportunity to evaluate his young talent.

On Saturday, that meant giving Marcus Semien his first Major League start at shortstop and plugging five rookies -- Semien, Leury Garcia, Conor Gillaspie, Avisail Garcia and Bryan Anderson -- into the starting lineup. The process figures to continue over the club's final seven games as Ventura hopes to get an idea of how some of the organization's younger players will fit into his roster going forward.

"I think where we're at right now, we're being able to put some guys out there and see how they perform," Ventura said. "That's part of the situation we put ourselves in, but having these guys up here, putting them around in different spots and seeing how they perform, that's something going into next year."

Tigers: Cabrera leaves early Saturday, day to day
Miguel Cabrera's status for Sunday's game is up in the air after the slugger departed Saturday's game early with soreness in his groin area.

Cabrera was replaced in the field to start the 10th inning after he had driven in a run and later came around to score as part of Detroit's furious six-run, ninth-inning rally. The club said Saturday night that Cabrera's status was day to day and it was not immediately clear whether or not he would be in the lineup for Sunday's series finale.

Worth noting
• The Tigers are just 18-21 in one-run games this season, making Detroit the only team out of the 10 currently in position to make the playoffs with a losing record in such contests.

• The Tigers are 12-6 against the White Sox this season, marking the fourth straight year Detroit has won the head-to-head series. Overall, the Tigers are 47-25 against Chicago since the start of the 2010 season, including 25-10 at Comerica Park.

MLB.com Comments