The Detroit Tigers may not have met expectations this season, but they still can make a success of the year.
Detroit climbed into a first-place tie with the Chicago White Sox in the AL Central on Tuesday night when they defeated the Kansas City Royals 2-0 behind a three-hit shutout by Anibal Sanchez.
"Two weeks from now, we could be, possibly, playing in the second round of the playoffs," manager Jim Leyland said, "and everybody would be pumped up about how great the Tigers are. We might not make it, and then the whole story would be about how disappointing the season was. They both go hand in hand. That's OK. That's the way it should be."
Leyland never puts it out in public what his expectations for a season are, but he conceded, "I figured this team to win somewhere between 90 and 95 games."
"I love our chances," Gerald Laird said after catching Sanchez's 105-pitch effort, in which he walked one and struck out 10. "We've got a great team. We've just got to put it all together. Field the ball."
There were little signs of strain in the Detroit clubhouse before the game. Octavio Dotel was coming up behind Miguel Cabrera and wrapping him in a bear hug.
Players were laughing and hooting on one another as they headed out for pregame prep work.
"I think everybody here is on the same page," Sanchez said. "We need to keep playing our game."
Leyland said, "We've still got Justin Verlander going for the Cy Young and Miguel Cabrera going for MVP. Those are nice side stories for you guys, but for us, it's work as usual. We've got to win games.
"If my guys need pompoms at this time of year, we're in trouble."