(Sports Network) - The Detroit Tigers figure to have the AL Central wrapped up well before the conclusion of their three-game series with the Kansas City Royals.
That doesn't mean that the season-ending set won't have some excitement.
Miguel Cabrera will be on Triple Crown watch as the regular season comes to a close and he seems to be squaring off against the right opponent to pad his numbers. He is a lifetime .325 hitter versus the Royals with 16 homers and 60 RBI in 88 games.
Cabrera leads the AL with a .325 average and 136 RBI. He'll need to go deep in this series as he is tied with the Texas Rangers' Josh Hamilton for the league lead with 43 homers.
The slugger's Tigers have a magic number of one for clinching the AL Central as they lead the Chicago White Sox by three games with three to play. They'll lock up the crown with a win tonight or a loss by the White Sox against the hosting Cleveland Indians.
Prince Fielder smashed his team to a 2-1 win on Sunday, belting a two-run homer in the eighth inning to give Detroit its sixth victory in seven games.
"I'm just glad I was able to help my team," Fielder said.
The duo of Cabrera and Fielder will take their swings tonight against Kansas City's Bruce Chen, who has lost three of his last four decisions and is coming off a setback to the Tigers last Tuesday.
Chen gave up only two runs on 10 hits and three walks in 6 2/3 innings, but the Royals were shut out 2-0. That dropped the lefty to 11-13 with a 5.13 earned run average in 33 starts this season.
"They came ready to play. I left a couple pitches up and they got some base hits," Chen said. "But we played hard and we never gave in."
The 35-year-old is 1-3 with a 3.60 ERA in four starts versus the Tigers this year.
Cabrera is a lifetime .379 hitter versus Chen, adding three homers and seven RBI.
Detroit counters with Rick Porcello, who hasn't won since Aug. 7.
The young righty lost six starts in a row following his last win before logging consecutive no-decisions. He faced the Royals on Wednesday and was charged with four runs on seven hits in four frames of work as the Tigers won 5-4.
Porcello, 23, is 9-12 with a 4.68 ERA in 30 starts this year and holds lifetime numbers of 5-3 with a 4.71 ERA in 14 meetings with the Royals.
He'll try to get on track against a Kansas City club that has lost seven of its past eight and was shelled 15-3 by Cleveland on Sunday. The Indians ran away with things thanks to a 10-run fifth inning.
"There was just nothing we could do," Royals manager Ned Yost said of the Indians' 10-run fifth. "We didn't have any offense up to that point. If the game was closer, we might have been able to take it in another direction."
Alex Gordon crushed a two-run homer and Tony Abreu added an RBI base hit for the Royals, who saw starter Luke Hochevar pounded for nine runs in 4 2/3 frames.
Detroit is 11-4 versus the Royals this season, but has split the six meetings so far in Kansas City.
Rangers eye AL West crown in clash with A's
(Sports Network) - The Texas Rangers can secure their third straight American League West crown on Monday when they begin a three-game series with the Oakland Athletics at the Coliseum.
Texas heads into this final regular season series with a two-game lead over Oakland, which, by the way can also lock up a postseason spot with a win in the opener.
"Everybody said Oakland has been a surprise, but not to us," Texas' Michael Young said ahead of the teams' three-game series that starts Monday. "We saw them early in the season and felt they had a chance to be good."
The Rangers locked up their third straight postseason berth with an 8-7 win over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Sunday after blowing a two-run ninth inning lead in game one of the doubleheader, 5-4.
"We had a toast, but all it was, was congratulating them on getting to the postseason," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "But what we're after, we haven't got there yet. So enjoy it and go to Oakland and keep going."
The A's currently hold a three-game edge over the Angels for the AL's final wild card spot after they completed a three-game sweep of Seattle, beating the Mariners, 5-2, on Sunday.
"This last series is going to be pretty big for us. That was our goal ever since the start of the season," Athletics starting pitcher Tommy Milone said. "Obviously you want to win the division, you don't want to hope for the wild card spot."
The A's could also get in with losses by both Tampa Bay and the Angels.
Oakland will hand the ball in Monday's opener to righty Jarrod Parker, who has won his last three decisions. Parker beat the Rangers on Wednesday, holding them to three runs and five hits in six innings to run his record to 12-8 on the year to go along with a 3.44 ERA.
"Honestly, our bullpen has had a lot of work lately and early on I was struggling a little bit, and when I came in after the second, Curt (Young) said, 'Flush it,'" Parker said. "That was kind of the mentality I was able to take out there, and to be able to go six and save some guys in the bullpen was big."
Parker has beaten the Rangers both times he has faced them and has pitched to a 1.93 ERA in the process.
Texas, meanwhile, will rely on lefty Martin Perez, who was roughed up by the A's in that Parker win last Wednesday. Perez failed to get out of the first inning in that one, yielding five runs and six hits in just two-thirds of a frame.
"I was trying to throw strikes, and they made adjustments," Perez said. "I was trying to get ahead with the breaking ball and then go with the fastball, and they made adjustments. It wasn't my day."
Texas has split its 16 matchups with the A's this season.
Angels hope to avoid elimination in Seattle
(Sports Network) - The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have no room for error.
On the brink of elimination from the playoff race, the Angels turn to C.J. Wilson for the opener of a three-game series versus the Seattle Mariners.
The Angels have won seven of their last nine games, but a split of Sunday's doubleheader with the AL West-leading Texas Rangers left them three back of the Oakland Athletics for the league's second wild card spot with three to play.
That means that Los Angeles will be eliminated from postseason contention with its next loss or one victory by the A's, who do have to battle the Rangers for a season-ending set in Oakland.
Former Angel Mike Napoli haunted his former club yet again, homering twice and driving in six runs to lift Texas to an 8-7 win in Sunday's nightcap.
Torii Hunter had rallied the Angels for a 5-4 victory in the first game with a two-run double in the ninth.
"We have to go out there and take care of our business," Hunter said of his team trailing the A's by three games with three left to play.
Mike Trout has done just that this year. The outfielder matched a franchise rookie record with his 48th steal on Sunday and become the first MLB rookie to notch at least 30 homers and 40 steals in a season with his home run in the first game.
Wilson, one of the Angels' big free agent prizes this past winter, will look to hurl his team to a win tonight.
The lefty has gone 0-1 in three starts since winning three in a row and did not factor into a 4-3 win over the Mariners on Wednesday. He gave up three runs on five hits and three walks over 5 1/3 innings, striking out five. His costly mistake came in the fourth frame when he allowed a solo homer to Justin Smoak that put the Mariners ahead.
Wilson, 31, is 12-10 with a 3.86 earned run average in 33 starts this year and did beat the Mariners in the only other time he faced them this year prior to last week. He notched a 4-2 road win back on May 27 thanks to six innings of one-run ball.
Like he did last week, Wilson will square off against Seattle's Felix Hernandez, who is looking to get back into AL Cy Young Award talks with his first win since Aug. 27.
Hernandez failed to win a game in September, losing his first three outings of the month before pitching well in back-to-back no-decisions. He held the Baltimore Orioles to just a run in eight innings of his team's 3-1 loss on Sept. 19 and then gave up two runs and fanned nine over six innings versus the Angels on Wednesday.
The 26-year-old righty is 13-8 with a 2.86 ERA in 32 games this season, but that includes just an 0-2 record and 5.13 ERA in four versus the Angels.
Seattle didn't help Los Angeles at all over the weekend, getting swept in three games by Oakland. That includes a 5-2 loss on Sunday that saw the Athletics hit a pair of homers in the eighth inning to go ahead.
"The A's are feeling it right now. Just huge home runs for them late in the ballgames the last couple nights," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said.
Kyle Seager and Smoak drove in runs for the Mariners, who have lost six of seven.
The Angels are 10-6 versus the Mariners this season, taking six of seven in Seattle.