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A sometimes-irreverent look at Detroit's Boys of Summer, the Tigers, as they try to return to the top of the American League Central.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Tigers take a reign check, falling short in final chance to clinch division at home

DETROIT -- The Tigers had to take a reign check.

Poised to clinch their third straight American League Central title, and mathematically needing both a win over the White Sox and an Indians loss to the Astros to make it happen, the Tigers didn’t get either.

A 6-3 loss to the ChiSox, coupled with Cleveland's 9-2 win, kept the magic number at two for another day, meaning the earliest the Tigers can clinch the division is Tuesday in Minnesota.

And it means that the Tigers, who played their final home game of the regular season Sunday, won’t be able to celebrate a clincher at home, yet again. The last time they did so was 1987.

Detroit finishes the home season with 51 home wins, its fifth straight season with 50 or more wins at home. The Tigers, who went over the 3-million mark for the fourth time in franchise history on Saturday, finished the home campaign with 3,083,397, the second-most in franchise history. The franchise record of 3,202,645 was set in 2008.

Like they had in Saturday’s monumental comeback win by the Tigers, the White Sox again took an early lead, with Connor Gillaspie scoring on a first-inning RBI single by former Tiger Avisail Garcia.

One of the guys Garcia was traded for, shortstop Jose Iglesias, did not play, still out with a left hand contusion. Miguel Cabrera, the man Garcia was often mistaken for, did not play either, after his sore groin flared up in Saturday’s comeback.

Prince Fielder tied it with one swing of the bat in the fourth inning, depositing an 89 mph fastball from Erik Johnson about halfway up the right-field seats.

That would not last.

Chicago fought back with three runs in the fifth inning, the first two on Gillaspie’s triple over Austin Jackson’s head in center field, and the next one on Garcia’s bloop single to shallow left, that dropped in between three Tigers, making it 4-1.

Sanchez was done after the 25-pitch inning, lasting just five frames, only the second time in his last 13 starts he’s gone fewer than six innings. The four earned runs allowed dropped him out of the American League ERA lead, as well.

He left the game in line for his first loss since July 19, a span of 12 starts ago. He’d gone 7-0 with four no-decisions in the interim.

Reliever Evan Reed gave up two runs in the seventh on a bases-loaded double by Jeff Keppinger, making it 6-1.

Detroit got one run back in the bottom of the seventh, on Austin Jackson’s bases-loaded sacrifice fly.

After that, the Tigers tried another ninth-inning comeback, but fell three runs short.

Brayan Pena led the ninth off with a pinch-hit double, followed by a single by Omar Infante. Ramon Santiago’s fielder’s choice scored Pena to cut it to 6-3.


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