Royals

Detroit Tigers not comfortable with narrow division lead over Royals

The Tigers’ Ian Kinsler was congratulated by third base coach Dave Clark after hitting a solo home run on Sunday.
The Tigers’ Ian Kinsler was congratulated by third base coach Dave Clark after hitting a solo home run on Sunday. The Kansas City Star

The race for the American League Central pennant is far from over.

However, the Detroit Tigers can take some comfort in knowing that they did their part to hold off their top contender.

Even after Sunday’s 5-2 loss to the Royals, the Tigers leave Kansas City with a 1 1/2-game lead in the AL Central standings. That lead is due in large part to their 13-6 record against the Royals this season, which includes a 2-1 mark in this weekend’s high-stakes series at Kauffman Stadium.

“We’ve been playing much better of late and to come in here and take two of three from this club is a nice series,” Tigers’ right-handed starter Rick Porcello said.

Even with those accomplishments and a favorable schedule that pits them against the division’s two bottom teams in a seven-game home stand to end the season, manager Brad Ausmus said the team is not comfortable.

“We cannot take either of these teams that are coming in lightly,” Ausmus said. “These are the kinds of teams that can put a dent in the pennant race and we have to do our best to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

Part of his discomfort has to do with Detroit’s struggles against those same two teams. The Tigers start the home stand with three games against the White Sox who are tied8-8 in the season series. Then, they end the regular season against the Twins, who won two of three in the last series and hold an 8-7 lead this year.

“It is going to go down to the wire and that is what is great about it,” Porcello said. “We are playing meaningful baseball in September and we have an opportunity to close this thing out.”

Detroit is 8-4 in its current stretch of 19 games against the AL Central and is 39-30 this season.

To reach Kathleen Gier, call 816-234-4875 or send email to kgier@kcstar.com.

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