DETROIT -- The American League Central race could have been a three-team race between the White Sox, Tigers and Indians. After all, the Tribe finished in second place in the division last year -- though the Tigers did run away with it by 15 games -- and were right in the thick of things this year until going 5-24 in August.
But as manager Manny Acta will readily admit, the team just didn't get the pitching it needed. The club's collective 4.82 ERA entering Tuesday night's game in Detroit is the worst in the AL. Therefore, Acta was answering questions about what he thought about the Sox and Tigers battling it out.
"I think it's going to go down to the wire. Both teams have what it takes to win it," Acta said. "The White Sox are very balanced throughout the lineup and the starting rotation and bullpen.
"The Tigers, I mean, the championships go through here, the division goes through here. They won it last year, and they have the team to do it again. They have the equalizer [in Justin Verlander], which is the guy who can go every five days and pretty much guarantee a win. It's going to be interesting. It's going to be a good race."
However the race turns out, the Indians are going to have a serious say. Eleven of their last 27 games are against the two teams competing for first place in the division.
Five of those games, including Tuesday night's contest, are against the Tigers, with a three-game series at Progressive Field from Sept. 14-16. Despite the Indians' struggles this season, they've constantly been a thorn in the Tigers' side.
After Monday's 3-2 win, they improved their record to 8-5 against Detroit. And while their ERA indicates they haven't pitched too well overall, Acta said his team has somehow done so against the Tigers.
"We have just been able to pitch well whenever we play them. That's the key," Acta said. "They have a very good lineup, and if you don't pitch well, they're going to crush you."