If there is a fate worse than postseason elimination it is final-weekend elimination, for the club that turns six well-meaning months into a Monday morning Hefty bag tow.
Better to have gloved and lost, you know.
Everyone else has known they were dead for weeks, months even, and moved beyond disappointment to growling acceptance. The rest of the postseason qualifiers have partied until the backup catcher was face down in a lake of lukewarm Bud Light.
As the Dodgers and Rockies settle in Los Angeles whom goes to the NL playoffs as what, Comerica Park tries to squeeze two more wins out of the Tigers while the Metrodome braces for one last party.
Jim Leyland's Tigers, who've owned all or part of first place since May 10, need a combination of two wins of their own or Twins losses to assure their AL Central title, which would be Detroit's first division flag since '87. They host the White Sox.
The Twins, who've spent all of four days in or tied for first, need three wins from themselves and three Tigers losses for their fifth division title of the decade. They host the Royals. It's a longshot, but a shot nevertheless. Should the Twins pick up two games in the standings over the weekend, a one-game playoff would be held at the Metrodome, probably Tuesday.
As such, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire stared into a television camera late Thursday afternoon and said, “It's in somebody else's hands. Ozzie's. C'mon Ozzie!”
That would be Ozzie Guillen, of course, manager of that band of college football fans known as the White Sox.
Here's how it sets up:
In his second start off the DL, Peavy shut out the Tigers over seven innings a week ago today. Two days later, Jackson, whose September ERA is 5.08, allowed five runs to the White Sox in seven innings.
Manship is a 24-year-old rookie scheduled to make the fifth start of his big league career. The Royals beat him in his last start, Sunday in Kansas City. This was Francisco Liriano's(notes) spot, but he has been ineffective. DiNardo, a lefty, has had an ERA in the 7's in three of his past four seasons.
If the Twins get this far and beat Greinke, they will feel like the team of destiny on the season's final day. Blackburn goes on three days rest.
Monday's rainout took Rick Porcello(notes) out of this start. Figaro, a stringy, right-handed Dominican, has thrown 15 2/3 major league innings. He had 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief against the White Sox on Monday, and hasn't started a game since June. Garcia, 34, will be pitching for a 2010 contract.
Verlander started against the White Sox twice this season. He won both in complete games, allowing one earned run in 18 innings. Danks, the lefty, has a 3.08 road ERA this season and has never lost (in two starts) at Comerica.
All arms on deck for the Twins, but they could start with Duensing, a rookie a lot better at home (2.83 ERA) than on the road. He was knocked around pretty good in his last two starts, in Chicago and Detroit. Carl Pavano(notes), on three days rest, is the alternative. Hochevar can be effective, but usually isn't. September ERA: 8.16.
There's still the NL West to be determined, too, though it's more about psyches and seeding now. The Dodgers and Rockies are in, the Dodgers in dull retreat and the Rockies with Moet running off their cap brims.
If the Rockies sweep at Dodger Stadium, they're the NL West champions, what would be the first division title in franchise history. It might not be worth the effort, given all they've expended getting here. Then again, it might not require a lot of effort.
The weekend matchups:
The Dodgers find themselves sort of stuck between getting their pitching and bodies together for the playoffs, winning the division, and holding off the Phillies and Cardinals for best NL record and home-field advantage. So far, they've handled it as with divided attentions, having lost four consecutive games and six of their last eight.
Running out two lefties to start the weekend should help. The Rockies are vulnerable against them.
If it all started today:
Tigers at Yankees
Red Sox at Angels
Cardinals at Dodgers
Rockies at Phillies