Two weeks ago I wrote about how the second-to-last Royals/Tigers series could go a long way toward deciding the division. Or how it could do nothing to move any closer toward a decided winner. And it looks like the latter has proven true.
All the better for this weekend's bout, where the Royals will host the Tigers in the biggest three-game series Kauffman Stadium has seen since the '80s.
After leading the division for a good chunk of August and the start to September, the Royals fell behind Detroit a week ago, but have stayed hot on the Tigers' tail. The Royals enter tonight's game one just half a game behind Detroit in the American League Central, but it's really more like a full game assuming the Royals lose a suspended game against Cleveland that will complete next week. The Indians are up two runs in the 10th inning in that one.
Game two highlights the weekend series with both sides' aces going at one another. James Shields meets Max Scherzer in a game that promises intermittent offense and a playoff-like intensity.
But it all starts on Friday night when Jason Vargas throws out the first pitch against a Detroit lineup that he's already faced four times this season. Vargas has gone 1-2 in those starts with two good outings, one so-so start and another bad one. He'll face Detroit's Justin Verlander who beat Kansas City with a decent start 11 days ago. Jeremy Guthrie and Rick Porcello duke it out Sunday afternoon in game three of the series.
Kansas City has maintained a pace with the mighty Tigers despite just going 5-11 head-to-head with their division foes this season. That can all change in three days this weekend, though. It's also important to remember the Royals have more than the division on the line. Kansas City has been the beneficiary of Oakland's horrendous collapse and now lead the AL Wildcard, which would mean Kauffman Stadium would host a playoff game for the first time since 1985.
The fans in KC would love nothing more than to taste playoff baseball again (or for the first time for many), but the marquee weekend series on the MLB schedule in mid-September will certainly satiate for the time being.