Tigers still heavy favorites to reach Division Series

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Detroit — Yes, Tigers fans are frustrated.

And they have every right to be, given their team's amazing inability to not only beat the Twins — but, lately, even be competitive against the doormat of the American League Central.

That said, there's no need to give up on the season just yet. After all, the odds still heavily favor Detroit playing in the American League Division Series, either in Baltimore or Los Angeles, starting Thursday.

Here's why.

With the Royals losing to the White Sox on Saturday night, the Tigers' magic number dipped to one.

That means the Tigers need just one more win to advance to the ALDS.

That win could come Sunday, in the regular-season finale against the Twins. A Royals loss to the White Sox also would seal the deal. But if the Tigers lose Sunday and the Royals win, then the Tigers would need to win Monday, in a Game 163 against the Royals to determine the AL Central championship. And if the Tigers lose that one, then they would need to win Tuesday, in a wild-card game against the A's or Mariners, who were battling for their playoff lives late Saturday night.

If the situation arises for the Tigers, Game 163 and the wild-card game would be at Comerica Park, because the Tigers own the season series against the Royals, and will finish with a better record than the A's and Mariners.

So, in short, it would take five consecutive losses, at home, for the Tigers to miss the ALDS.

Two of those already are in the books thanks to the Twins, who won 12-3 on Saturday night after rolling 11-4 on Friday night.

The odds of three more Tigers losses — especially with David Price pitching Sunday, Justin Verlander in line to face Royals starter Jason Vargas on Monday and Max Scherzer on schedule for Tuesday — are long, to say the least.