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Peter Gammons: ‘Didn’t Think AL Central Would Be Great Race’

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(Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

(Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

On July 31, the Detroit Tigers were atop the baseball world. They had just traded for David Price and boasted the three previous AL Cy Young winners at the top of their rotation.

Since then, however, it’s hardly been smooth sailing.

The Tigers lost Anibal Sanchez (pectoral strain) and Joakim Soria (oblique strain) to the DL, and Justin Verlander, who exited Monday’s start against Pittsburgh with shoulder soreness, may soon join them.

“We suspected there was something wrong,” MLB Network and MLB.com analyst Peter Gammons said of Verlander on The John Feinstein Show. “He went through this in 2008, and it turned out to be mechanical and in the month of September he was great.”

The Tigers would love for that to happen in 2014. Verlander is 10-11 with a 4.76 ERA and 1.42 WHIP.

“I think I kept thinking (he would turn it around),” Gammons said. “He had times when he touched 98, 99. But I think about where the Tigers went in a week – from making the deal to get David Price to losing Anibal Sanchez, Joakim Soria and Justin Verlander in a period of 72 hours.”

Gammons admitted he’d like to see Detroit win the World Series – if not this year, then soon.

“There’s so many things that go into this,” he said. “We’re all human. A lot of us would love to see a world championship in Detroit because of what that city’s gone though. I don’t think there’s another team in baseball that would be – if they didn’t win – more viewed as a disappointment than the Tigers. The Tigers really have symbolized that city so much, and they had disappointment when they lost to the Cardinals in 2006 and the Giants in four straight (in 2012). I think last year’s loss (in the ALCS) to the Red Sox, who were an inferior team, was heartbreaking and shocking to people in Detroit.”

After acquiring Price, the Tigers were considered by many a lock to face Oakland in the ALCS. But after dropping five of six, Detroit (63-53 entering play Aug. 12) suddenly trails surging Kansas City (64-53) by a half-game in the AL Central.

The Tigers lead Seattle (63-55) by just one game for the second Wild Card spot.

“I do think the Tigers will (make the playoffs),” Gammons said, “but it’s a long haul here.”

Kansas City, meanwhile, has won eight straight to assume control of the division.

“I felt a little chastised for going on spring training two years in a row and getting very excited about the Royals,” Gammons said. “Tom Verducci and I had the same feeling two years in a row, and they still haven’t hit the way they should hit. But in the month of September, that can change.”

“But I find the Central is not a place where I thought there was going to be a great race,” Gammons continued. “I thought the American League East and the National League Central would each have great races. Not that the American League East is good – because I think it’s the worst of the three divisions in the American League – but because I didn’t see anybody who was really good. And yet, here we see the incredible job that Buck Showalter has done, taking a team of really hard-nosed players and somehow just maneuvering that pitching staff around.”

The Orioles have made 76 pitching transactions this year.

“They’re moving guys around left and right,” Gammons said. “They must have a great deal with Southwest Airlines.”

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