Andy Dirks barreled into second base on Wednesday night. A short while later, his Detroit Tigers barreled into sole possession of first place in the AL Central.
It's too early to tell if Dirks' takeout slide on Kansas City second baseman Irving Falu will be featured in the highlight reel of a division winner. But the hard entry by the Tigers right fielder broke up a double play that would have ended the eighth inning and allowed Don Kelly to score from third with the eventual winning run. The end result was a 5-4 Detroit victory at Comerica Park that gave the Tigers a one-game lead in the AL Central with eight to play.
"I was just trying to break up the double play and try to get a piece of him any way I could to help us score that run,'' Dirks [told reporters after the game]. ''That's just kind of the way you play baseball.''
The solid baseball play actually brought to mind Alex Rios' hard slide on Sept. 17, which sprung the White Sox to a win over the Tigers that opened a three-game lead in the division for Chicago. Robin Ventura's crew has hit the skids since, though, and their 6-4 loss to Cleveland on Wednesday opened the door for the Tigers to stand alone atop the AL Central for the first time since July 22.
The White Sox have gone 2-7 since winning that game with the Rios slide while the Tigers have gone 6-3. While we're loathe to assign Dirks' slide any importance past its role in one victory, it certainly looks like the Tigers are finally starting to seize the division that everyone thought was theirs to begin with.
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