The hardy-har-har line about the American League Central for much of this season has been that "nobody wants to win it."
In reality, of course, the Central has five teams that would very much love to run away with it. It's just that none of them were good enough to do so.
But in a claustrophobic pennant chase, the Detroit Tigers' four-game lead one week into August qualifies as the closest thing anybody in this division has had to actual breathing room. In fact, it's currently the second-largest division lead in all of baseball, behind the Phillies' 8 1/2-game edge on the Braves. And with a three-game series in Cleveland looming, the Tigers have a real opportunity this week to potentially put the Central in their back pocket.
While the White Sox still undoubtedly have some say in the matter, the Central is currently a two-team race between the Tigers and Tribe. The Tigers took care of business in winning consecutive series from the Rangers and Royals last week, while the Indians, to their credit, avoided the collapse that could have come from a seven-game road trip through Boston and Texas.
Now, the Central stage is set for a three-game series between these two clubs Tuesday through Thursday at Progressive Field -- their first meeting in nearly three months.