Toronto (84-74) at Detroit (95-63)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Detroit, MI
Temp: 34° F
  • Game info: 1:05 pm EDT Thu Sep 28, 2006
  • TV: ESPN2, FSD
Preview | Box Score | Recap

While the Detroit Tigers’ magic number keeps dropping, Kenny Rogers’ win total continues to increase.

Rogers looks to match his career high for wins and the Tigers try to increase their AL Central lead when they play the finale of three-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday.

Detroit (95-63) lost 7-4 to Toronto on Wednesday, but kept its one-game lead over Minnesota in the AL Central. The Twins lost 6-4 to Kansas City, reducing Detroit’s magic number for clinching the division to three.

“They didn’t do what they were supposed to do, but neither did we,” said Craig Monroe, who homered for the Tigers. “We can’t be happy when they lose— we have to win games.”

If the teams finished tied for first, the Tigers would win their first division title since taking the AL East in 1987 because they won the season series from the Twins 11-8. Detroit has fallen one game behind the New York Yankees, who beat Baltimore 16-5, for the AL’s best record.

Rogers (17-6, 3.63 ERA) has a chance to reach 18 wins for the second time in his career. He did it with Texas in 2004.

The left-hander has been clutch for the Tigers down the stretch, going 6-0 with a 1.66 ERA in his last eight starts. His last loss was on Aug. 12, against the Chicago White Sox.

Rogers gave up one run and five hits in eight innings in a 15-4 win over Kansas City on Saturday. This will be Rogers first start against the Blue Jays this season. He is 14-8 with a 3.59 ERA in 26 starts and 27 relief appearances in his career against them.

Toronto (84-74) will counter with A.J. Burnett (9-8, 3.83 ERA), who is trying to finish his first season in the AL on a strong note. The right-hander is 3-2 with a 2.13 ERA in his last five starts.

“His stuff’s overpowering,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “He’s got that big hard hook that you really can’t do anything with when he’s getting that over and getting ahead of the count. … He’ll give up his hits here and there, but you know, he’s doing a great job.”

Burnett gave up two runs—one earned—and six hits while striking out eight in seven innings in a 5-3 win over Boston on Saturday. This will be Burnett’s first career appearance against the Tigers.

Toronto’s victory Wednesday, its 10th in 15 games, moved it into second place in the AL East ahead of Boston, which lost 11-0 to Tampa Bay. The Blue Jays haven’t finished as high as second since 1993 when it won the AL East en route to its second straight championship.

Toronto’s Bengie Molina hit his 19th homer, and is one short of Darrin Fletcher’s team record for home runs by a catcher set in 2000.

Tigers outfielder Magglio Ordonez was back in the starting lineup after leaving Tuesday’s win with back spasms. He went 0-for-3 with a walk.

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Starting Pitchers

A. Burnett Phi vs. K. Rogers Det
10-8 Record 17-8
3.98 ERA 3.84
118 K 99
39 BB 62
1.30 WHIP 1.26

Scoreboard

Thursday, Sep 28