Though the Detroit Tigers' run of reaching the postseason with four straight division titles has ended, they can potentially spoil the Minnesota Twins' pursuit of the playoffs.
That starts Friday night when the Tigers try to continue their home success against the Twins.
This is strange territory for Detroit (71-81), which won at least 88 games while ruling the AL Central the past four seasons. However, key injuries and the AL's worst bullpen have put the Tigers at the bottom of the division entering their final home set.
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"Not making the playoffs is failing," veteran Victor Martinez said.
While Detroit must live with that self-proclaimed failure, it ultimately could have a say as to whether Minnesota (78-74) reaches the postseason.
Both the Twins and the Los Angeles Angels are 1 1/2 games behind Houston for the final wild-card spot. Minnesota didn't help its cause by going 4-6 on a homestand that concluded with Thursday's 6-3 defeat to Cleveland.
"We won the series (with the Indians), which is good, but we've got to look forward to (Friday) and try to get another win," said Joe Mauer, who set a franchise record by reaching base safely in 43 straight games in the finale.
That home stay began by losing two of three to the Tigers, who fared well in that series and have been even better while outscoring Minnesota 39-9 to take five of the first six meetings at Comerica Park.
After sitting out Wednesday's 7-4 victory over the Chicago White Sox with back soreness, Miguel Cabrera is likely to be in the Tigers' lineup for the opener.
"If we were fighting for a playoff spot, he'd be playing (Wednesday)," said embattled Detroit manager Brad Ausmus, whose club has won six of nine. "But with (the day off Thursday), I'd rather knock it out and have him be ready for the series we have left against teams in contention."
Cabrera leads the AL with a .337 batting average but is hitting .244 against the Twins this season. He did homer twice in a 13-1 rout of Minnesota in the most recent meeting at Detroit on May 14. Cabrera is 1 for 6 this season against Mike Pelfrey (6-10, 4.16 ERA), who has gone 1-2 with a 4.19 ERA versus Detroit in 2015.
The right-hander has been even worse while going 0-3 with a 7.23 ERA in his last five outings. He's 0-6 with a 6.87 ERA in 12 road starts since winning at Cleveland on May 8.
Teammate Brian Dozier went 5 for 12 with a homer as Minnesota took two of three from Cleveland, but he's 1 for 16 in the last four against Detroit.
Dozier and the Twins will get their first look at Matt Boyd (1-5, 7.40), who has gone 0-3 and recorded two quality starts in seven outings since earning his only major league victory against Kansas City on Aug. 5 in his Tigers debut.
However, the left-hander yielded a pair of solo home runs, one other hit and struck out six in six innings of a 6-5, 11-inning victory over the Royals on Saturday.