Tragic number: Four.
Tuesday split doubleheader was an example of how the Tigers have remained in first place since May. They've been challenged, but they haven't broken, as the White Sox did in late August-early September on a death-march road trip through New York, Boston and Minnesota.
Or, for that matter, as the Twins did after a couple of difficult losses on a long West Coast road trip in July.
If the Tigers hold off the Twins this week, we shouldn't look so much to this game with regret as the game of July 18 — when R.A. Dickey tried to sneak a fastball past Ian Kinsler with the game on the line. Or the game of July 19, when the Twins staked Nick Blackburn to a 12-2 lead and lost 14-13, with the final out coming on a blown call at the plate. And the four losses in five games that followed those two shouldn't-have-happeneds.
The Twins keep grinding though. It's difficult to believe that they touched up Justin Verlander for four runs the way he was overpowering hitters the first five innings. But Brian Duensing had his worst start — five runs allowed in 4 2/3 innings, and Bobby Keppel didn't help a whole lot.
Facing Verlander is a lot like facing Zach Grienke — it's not easy to get the win. The Twins theoretically have the advantage in the pitching matchups the next two games. They need to win both. A split of this series does them no good.
I'm looking forward to seeing Eddie Bonine pitch Wednesday for the Tigers. Besides my tendency to root for my fellow Eddies, he is said to throw a knuckleball, albeit not as his primary pitch. There used to be a lot of pitchers who threw a knuckleball as a changeup, but that approach died out sometime in the 1960s.
*The Pioneer Press says the Twins have a deal with Miguel Angel Sano, a supposedly 16-year-old superprospect from the Dominican.
This signing, once finalized, would be significant as an indication that Minnesota is becoming a major player in the Dominican market. The Twins have scouted Dominica, and they've traded for players (Cristian Guzman, David Ortiz, Francisco Liriano) as a result of their scouting, but they haven't signed amateur players there.
*Chuck Knoblauch, once the Twins best player and then the resource upon which then-general manager Terry Ryan used to trigger the revival of the team, has been charged in a domestic battery case.
* The White Sox will not use Mark Buehrle against the Tigers in the season-closing series — he'll make his final start on Wednesday in a make-up doubleheader — but will pitch Jake Peavy against Detroit. This is good for the Twins, as Buehrle is struggling now and Peavy dominated the Tigers last week. The Sox's scheduled starters: Peavy, Freddy Garcia and John Danks.