With the final stretch run of the season closing in on the Detroit Tigers, their hopes of reaching the postseason are quickly slipping through their fingers. Before the first pitch of September 7, the Tigers had little space between them and first-place Chicago, for the American League Central division lead. Both teams understand that their only certain shot at the playoffs is to win the division, as the new double Wild Card format would leave them on the outside looking in. For Detroit, that acknowledgement is a sobering reminder of their underachievement, so far.
Though the drama of late-season playoff pushes are known for their riveting excitement, being the team looking upward at its opponents can quickly cause a team to self-destruct. Detroit, with its 3-2 loss to Anaheim on September 7, now faces a daunting task, needing to win six of their next nine contests, against rival opponents Anaheim, Chicago and Cleveland, in order to remain in contention. For all intents and purposes, these next two weeks represent the success or failure of the Tigers' season.
Detroit is now three and a half games behind Oakland for the second Wild Card spot. If they do not claim series wins against their three immediate opponents, at the very least, their playoff chances are destined to go up in flames. That is a tall task, especially for a team that, on a game by game basis, cannot seem to figure out how to play consistently and with a sense of urgency.
The series opener against Anaheim was a telling sign. With the game seemingly in hand, thanks to the efforts of starting pitcher Max Scherzer, the bottom, once again, fell out from underneath the team's hopes. Against Ervin Santana, Detroit should have had one of its better chances to swipe a victory from the Angels. Now, they must take on two of Anaheim's better pitchers and hope that their fortunes turn around before battling Chicago.
The sense of urgency needed by the Tigers is running out of time for it to prevail. If not now, the moment - and the playoffs - may soon pass the Tigers by.
The author, D. Benjamin Satkowiak, is a successful entrepreneur and published, freelance author, who has tailored works on various sports, health and fitness topics. He currently serves as a Yahoo! Contributor Network "Featured Contributor" and writes on the Detroit Tigers, Detroit Lions, Great Lakes Loons and Notre Dame football.