The Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals are both hoping to make up a bit of ground in the AL Central standings heading into the All-Star Break. Currently the Royals (37-44) are 7.5 games back of the Chicago White Sox atop the division, while the Tigers (41-42) are 4.5 back. As they start a three-game series against each other today, there's quite a bit on the line in terms of a competitive window for 2012.
The Tigers are built to win now with their commitment to Prince Fielder in the offseason among others and the massive payroll overall. The team has the reigning MVP and Cy Young Award winner in Justin Verlander and, on paper, should be leading the division. Yet injuries and bad luck have turned the tables on the Tigers for a disappointing season that no one saw coming.
For the Royals it's the opposite. The young team lost 12 consecutive games early in the season and it looked like Ned Yost's squad was in for a very long, miserable summer in which the All-Star Game was coming to town. Instead, despite a number of significant injuries to pitchers and players, guys like Mike Moustakas have matured enough to carry the load and the Royals have maintained a short distance between themselves and possible contention. Then again, the line is a fine one and they need a winning streak to keep things close enough.
The three-game series against each other might not make or break a season, but if a team can pull off a string of wins before the ASB, it would bode well for not only the standings but momentum for the second half.