Tigers' playoff chances blowing away

BY foxsports • September 17, 2012

If the Detroit Tigers end up missing the playoffs and a CSI unit is sent to the scene of a criminal waste of great talent, the investigators are likely going to determine the cause of death to be coughing up leads in the last two one-run losses.

Detroit was up by three runs Monday before losing, 5-4, to the White Sox and dropping three games behind Chicago in the American League Central standings with 16 games to play.

Starter Doug Fister picked a bad game to lose his usual crisp effectiveness, while the Tigers made mistakes and didn't take advantage of Chicago's miscues.

On Sunday, closer Jose Valverde blew a save in the ninth inning of a loss to the Indians — this season's thorn in the paw of the Tigers.

The division race would have two first-place teams today had Detroit won both games. Instead, the Tigers are fading and running out time.

What will it take for the Tigers to pull it out?

Their margin for error is very slim now. With their next 10 games at Comerica Park, they probably need to go 12-4 overall.

"There's plenty of time — if you win games," Tigers manager Jim Leyland told FOX Sports Detroit after the game. "That's the perspective I'd keep it in."

The Tigers are coming off a 4-6 road trip but are 43-28 at home, where they'll face the A's, Twins and Royals over the next week and a half. Meanwhile, Chicago travels to Anaheim and then Kansas City, so it's a good place on the schedule for the Tigers to make up ground.

Will the Tigers, who finished 12-6 against the White Sox this season, take advantage?

They certainly didn't Monday. I thought the makeup game would give the Tigers an advantage they wouldn't have had without rain postponing Thursday's series finale at U.S. Cellular Field. It would have been Justin Verlander versus Chris Sale that night, which is a wash.

This game was Fister against Jose Quintana, giving Detroit an advantage, but Fister just wasn't Fister.

"I did a poor job of executing," Fister said. "I just didn't do my job today. I just didn't keep the ball down, and a good lineup over there made me pay for it.

"But we're still in the hunt, and that's where we want to be."

Albeit, they're hunting with a scope on the rifle and the White Sox are firing from close range.

Still, there was one sign of hope for the Tigers in the ballpark. A White Sox fan sitting in the front row had a foreboding neighbor in the seat next to him: a full-sized skeleton dressed in a White Sox uniform and cap.

Foreshadowing of the CSI unit being sent in another direction on the final day of the season?

Hey, you never know.

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