The Tigers defeated the Royals 7-3 tonight to extend their lead over the second place Twins to 1 1/2 games. The Twins lost to the Orioles 7-3 in their game. The Tigers magic number for qualifying for the playoffs is now at 3 pending the outcome of the White Sox game versus the Mariners. As I type this, the White Sox trail 8-6 in the 7th inning. It's looking like the Tigers could clinch their first playoff spot since 1987 this weekend.
Tonight's game versus the Royals was closer than the final score indicated. The Tigers took the lead 4-3 in the 6th inning on a two run home run by Sean Casey and it stayed that way until they added 3 insurance runs in the 9th. Casey's home run followed a leadoff infield hit by Ivan Rodriguez. The Mighty Casey has not shown too much power since joining the Tigers so this was a pleasant surprise. The other big hitter for the Tigers was Carlos Guillen who tripled, doubled, singled and walked in 4 plate appearances.
On the pitching side, Wil Ledezma was a little sloppy tonight walking 3 batters and making an error but he kept the team in the game allowing 3 runs (only 1 earned) on just 4 hits in 5 2/3 innings. Only one of the hits, a 6th inning double by Shane Costa which knocked him out of the game, was hit hard. ZackMiner got the final out of the 6th. Joel Zumaya came into the game in the 7th with a one run lead and held the Royals scoreless for 2 innings. Zumaya was his usual excellent self but was a little more efficient than usual throwing only 19 pitches, 12 for strikes. Jones closed it out in a non-save situation by pitching a 1-2-3 9th.
MVP Consideration for Guillen?
The underrated Carlos Guillen is having an excellent season batting .313/.394/.523. There has been quite a bit of talk on Tiger message boards concerning the possibility of MVP consideration for Carlos Guillen. After all, his rate stats compare quite favorably to Derek Jeter (.338/.413/.481), the consensus favorite to win the award. Jeter gets on more but Guillen has more power. Neither is having a great season defensively. Jeter as usual is not showing much range although he has been steadier than Guillen who has had trouble throwing.
I think the biggest difference between the two is that Jeter has been a little healthier and played more full games. This is reflected in Jeter's 120.5 runs created versus 99 for Guillen. Still, Guillen is having an outstanding season and has really been the only Tiger who has been consistent offensively all year long. I don't think he will or should win the MVP but I definitely think he deserves some consideration.