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JustinVerlanderHopefully the #DOOM nightmare is over for the Tigers. We’ve been saying all along that the schedule favors Detroit’s chances for a strong finish if they could only hang close in the AL Central race. But we’re well past the point in the year where hanging close means three or four games. All they have to do is take care of business versus the Twins, Indians, and Royals – some of the worst competition in all of baseball.

That’s all.

But they hadn’t been able to do it lately. Entering Friday, the Tigers had won only six of their previous fifteen games. Included in that was a 1-5 record versus the Indians and Royals. Not strong. Detroit, of course, had taken care of business against the White Sox (they’re 8-1 versus Chicago since the All-Star break), but they weren’t going to stand a chance in winning the division if they couldn’t beat anyone else.

But they proceeded to roll past Cleveland on Friday – hopefully a sign that they’re going to turn a corner and seriously make a run at the division. Of course one game doesn’t prove anything, especially in baseball where the outcome of a single game is probably determined more by random variation than pure relative skill. Unless you have Justin Verlander. And the Tigers have Justin Verlander.

The reigning (and likely repeat) AL Cy Young winner gave seven scoreless innings scattering six hits while striking out six. The win puts pressure back on the White Sox to keep pace ahead of Monday’s make-up game. (For what it’s worth, the Sox are leading the Twins convincingly in the ninth inning).

It remains to be seen what will happen on Saturday and Sunday when Anibal Sanchez and Rick Porcello take the mound against Cleveland, but it goes without saying that starting the series with a win is better than a loss. One couldn’t point to any single remaining game on Detroit’s schedule and call it a “must win”, but it’s imperative to win series against sub-par competition.

Beside the one game remaining against each other, the Tigers only remaining opponent above .500 is the Oakland Athletics. The White Sox still have to play series against the Los Angeles Angels and Tampa Bay Rays.

Matt  Snyder writes about Baseball, Football, and College Basketball. He can be found online as the creator and editor of Forever Faithful, the editor of The Tigers Den, a contributor to Call To The Pen, and a contributor to SideLion Report. He can be reached on Twitter @snyder_matthew.