This wasn't how the Tigers planned things to happen after trading away Austin Jackson and Drew Smyly. Detroit brought in David Price to sure up a rotation in a series with Oakland and everyone considered them the frontrunner to win the pennant. Now, they might have to win a play-in game just to reach a playoff series.
The Kansas City Royals claimed first place in the American League Central last night with a 3-2 win over the Oakland Athletics. Couple that with another Detroit loss and the Royals have a 0.5 game advantage in the win column. Detroit fell to Pittsburgh 11-6.
Things got even better for Kansas City and even worse for Detroit, though. The Royals, who stayed quiet at this year's trade deadline, made a move just before game time to acquire Josh Willingham through waivers. The 35-year-old outfielder should do a lot for a Kansas City lineup looking to add power wherever it can. They have scored the least number of runs on the season in their division and are in desperate need of some home run ability.
Home run hitter
Willingham is only hitting .210 this season, but he does bring long ball ability. He has 12 home runs in just 68 games for Minnesota this season and is just under two years removed from a 35 home run season in his first campaign with the Twins. Willingham will certainly stick to the corner outfield spots, but Alex Gordon's versatility to be able to potentially move to center makes this a very versatile move for Kansas City. The Royals have been using a combination of Gordon, Jarrod Dyson, Lorenzo Cain and Nori Aoki in the outfield. They also have Raul Ibanez in the DH slot and can use Willingham to mash left-handers, where Ibanez struggles.
Meanwhile, Justin Verlander suffered the shortest outing of his career on Monday night in Pittsburgh. The former Cy Young winner came in with terrific career numbers against the Pirates, but struggled to get any outs early when he had little to no command of the strike zone. Verlander lasted just one full inning, giving up four hits, two walks and five runs. Ironically enough, he did strike out the side in that inning before leaving the game with shoulder tightness. This news is not welcomed by Detroit, who just lost Anibal Sanchez to the DL. Suddenly, the rotation that was filled with aces looks a little thin in Detroit.
There is still no word on the extent of Verlander's injury so Tiger fans have some hope that he won't miss any time. But with how the Royals are playing, there is not a whole lot of time for Detroit to figure things out. The Tigers still have a playoff spot as of right now but could end up in Los Angeles for the Wild Card single elimination game.