With a 5-1 loss to Toronto on Saturday, Detroit has now lost back-to-back series and, pending the result of tonight's White Sox game, could be 2 12 games out of first place when they wake up Sunday.
After completing a sweep of the White Sox last Sunday, Detroit held a 1 12-game lead in the AL Central. They executed a major trade Monday, acquiring starter Anibal Sanchez and second baseman Omar Infante from Miami for a package of prospects that included blue-chip pitcher Jacob Turner.
Things can change quickly in a close playoff race. It's only July 28, and there are over two months left in the regular season -- plenty of time for more of these weekly shifts. But Detroit probably won't run away with the division, as many doom-and-gloomers seemed to expect only a few days ago.
Sanchez, making his first career start in the American League, allowed three home runs to Toronto's powerful offense. It wasn't the kind of debut he or the Tigers were looking for, especially after Friday's 8-3 defeat at the hands of the Blue Jays. Infante went 0-3 and only has two hits in 17 at-bats since re-joining Detroit.
One start and a handful of at-bats are hardly indicative of how things will go for Sanchez and Infante with their new team. Chances are, the deal will turn out to be good for Detroit, at least in 2012 (they may regret trading Turner down the road).
But after looking nearly infallible for most of the month of July, Detroit's momentum has come to a screeching halt in the last few days. This latest stretch doesn't mean the White Sox will cruise to a division title, just as Detroit's hot streak in July never meant they would do the same.
Detroit is a good team. But good enough to top the White Sox for the AL Central title? We'll see.