The Tigers start the second half of the 2011 season tonight with a big 3-game series at home against their division rivals the Chicago White Sox.  Detroit begins the stretch drive in a tie for first place with Cleveland, who won last night while the Tigers enjoyed another off day.  The American League Central  Division race looks to be a competitive one, with Detroit, Cleveland, Chicago and Minnesota all expected to contend.  The Tigers are in a position to determine their own destiny as they face Central Division opponents in 45 of their remaining 70 games.  If they can beat their Division opponents, they have a very good chance of playing October baseball.  It's that simple.  The Tigers also might get some help from the Red Sox and Yankees.  Detroit doesn't have to play either team again in the regular season (we played them in April and May), while the Indians, White Sox and Twins all have several games with both A.L. East powerhouses. 

Tonight the Tigers will send their ace, Justin Verlander to the mound to face Chicago's Gavin Floyd.  Verlander is 12-4 while Floyd is 6-9.  It may sound like a mismatch, but Floyd has been tough on the Tigers in the last 5 years.  Miguel Cabrera is only hitting .154 against him, Brennan Boesch and Austin Jackson are hitless in games where Floyd has pitched.  A handful of  Tigers have done well against the crafty Floyd.  Ryan Raburn is hitting .414 against him and Jhonny Peralta and Victor Martinez have also had success. 

70 games left this season.  The Tigers haven't had a winning second half since Jim Leyland became Detroit's manager.  Not even in 2006 when the Tigers reached the World Series.  If they can pull it off this year, you can start saving your pennies for playoff tickets.  It should be an exciting end of the summer.