Published September 22, 2013
| Sports Network
The Detroit Tigers are going to have a hard time duplicating the energy provided by Saturday night's thrilling victory.
An American League Central title could do the trick.
The Tigers have a chance to lock up their third straight division crown on Sunday afternoon as they wrap their regular-season home schedule with the finale of a three-game set with the Chicago White Sox.
Detroit reduced its magic number to clinch the division to two after an incredible rally to win last night 7-6 in 12 innings.
The Tigers trailed 6-0 heading into the bottom of the ninth and got five straight hits, the last a three-run homer by Andy Dirks, to make it a one-run game.
The White Sox then went to closer Addison Reed, who eventually yielded a game- tying sacrifice fly to Torii Hunter and Omar Infante gave Detroit the victory when he knocked in Don Kelly in the 12th frame.
"That speaks highly of this ballclub. It's one thing to get close, it's another thing to tie it up and then win it," Dirks said.
Detroit won its third straight and for the ninth time in its last 11 games. It leads Cleveland by six games for first place in the AL Central and can lock up the division with a win and an Indians loss today to the Houston Astros.
"Just when you think you've seen everything," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said following his club's third straight loss and 18th in the last 22 games.
Detroit did see slugger Miguel Cabrera exit in the 10th inning with a sore groin and wrapping up the division sooner rather than later could allow Jim Leyland some extra time to rest his star.
Cabrera leads the majors with a .349 average and 136 RBI while ranking second in homers with 44, but has been slowed in the second half by abdominal and hip issues as well as the groin. He is day-to-day after last night's win.
"I don't think it's too good," Leyland said.
Detroit, which will wrap its regular season in Minnesota and Miami, gives Anibal Sanchez the start today. He looks to remain unbeaten for a 12th start in a row and is 14-7 with an AL-best 2.51 earned run average on the season.
Sanchez has not lost since July 19, going 7-0 with a 2.07 ERA over his last 11 starts. He has struck out 10 batters in each of his last two outings, the first a victory over the White Sox on Sept. 11. The right-hander logged 7 1/3 scoreless innings, moving to 2-1 with a 1.93 ERA in three career meetings with Chicago.
Sanchez then picked up a no-decision on Tuesday versus Seattle, though the 29- year-old gave up just two runs over 6 1/3 frames.
Erik Johnson will make his fourth career start today for the White Sox and is coming off the first victory of his Major League career. He hurled six scoreless innings of four-hit ball, striking out eight to win a 12-1 decision over Minnesota on Monday.
Johnson, who made his big league debut on Sept. 2, had lost the first two outings of his career, including a setback to Detroit six days prior to his win. The 23-year-old right yielded six runs over 3 2/3 innings versus the Tigers, though just two of those were earned.
The Tigers are 12-6 versus the White Sox this season, winning six of eight in Detroit.