Leyland not surprised by rise of AL Central

Leyland not surprised by rise of AL Central

Leyland not surprised by rise of AL Central

DETROIT -- Now that three teams in the American League Central are rolling, Tigers manager Jim Leyland has a message for all those who doubted the quality of the division when the Tigers were the only team in it with a winning record: I told you so.

"I told everybody all year about it, but they didn't listen to me," Leyland said.

If the season ended today, the Tigers would still be the only team from the division to make the postseason. Both Cleveland and Kansas City, however, have suddenly joined the thick of the Wild Card race, the Indians sitting just a half-game behind the Orioles and Rangers entering Saturday.

The Indians had an eight-game winning streak that ended Friday night in Miami. The Royals had a nine-game winning streak that sustained the same fate Friday in New York to the Mets. That left the Tigers entering Saturday with the longest winning streak in the AL, having won six in a row to find secure footing over .500.

"It doesn't surprise me," Leyland continued. "It must surprise you guys, because everybody else thought this was just a piece-of-cake division. It's not. I tried to tell everybody that all year. These are good teams."

The flip side, of course, is that the White Sox have played a part in all of those winning streaks. They entered Saturday having lost eight in a row and 11 out of 12, all to the Tigers, Indians and Royals.

Even so, Leyland found some kind words for them.

"I'll tell you what, I think right now the Chicago White Sox have three of the best left-handed pitchers in the league with [Jose] Quintana, [Hector] Santiago and [Chris] Sale," Leyland said. "And [Danks] has been a real good pitcher. He's just coming back from some health issues. They'll make some noise before this thing's all over."

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. Bobby Nightengale is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.