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A Losing Streak Has The Detroit Tigers Facing Extinction

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On July 10th, the Tigers were winners of five straight games, owned a record of 48-37, and were in first place in the American League Central. They haven't won a game since, and at 48-44 now find themselves in third place, 3.5 games behind the White Sox and a half game behind the Twins. Although it may seem like a minor blip in a long season, the Tigers have significantly damaged their chances of winning the division by losing seven straight, and now are long shots to make the playoffs.

Prior to their current slide, Baseball Prospectus estimated that Detroit's chances of making the playoffs were somewhere around 32%, a figure that makes sense given there was essentially a three-way tie atop the division. Today, that number has plummeted all the way down to under 12%, an astounding drop, especially considering that Chicago and Minnesota spent last weekend playing each other. With the Twins winning this afternoon, it's probably even a bit less than that. Essentially, a one-in-three shot at the postseason is now more like one-in-nine.

Part of the reason those playoff odds are so low, is that the Tigers were playing a little over their heads to begin with. Detroit has been outscored by 12 runs this season, which means they've played closer to a 45-47 team. A stellar bullpen helped Detroit win a number of close games early, and that luck may now be evening out.

The Tigers have suffered some excruciating losses over the course of the streak, losing both ends of a double-header against Cleveland by one run, capped by a loss in 11 innings in the finale. Two days later, they lost 8-6 to the Rangers, in fourteen innings. Although two of the Tiger losses have been somewhat high scoring games, on the whole the offense bears the blame for the losing streak. In seven games, the Tigers have scored just 17 runs, an average of 2.4 per game.

Detroit only has six games left against the Twins, which could be seen as a good or bad thing. If they want to catch the White Sox however, they'll have their chances, with fourteen games against Chicago looming. Step one is simply winning a game against anyone.