Now it really gets interesting.
It's the Tigers' turn to check their psyches, feel the breath of the charging champions on their neck and sweat the small stuff after their hope of a runaway season was shattered by a White Sox sweep.
And now it gets interesting, because the Tigers must go to Boston with a season-high five-game losing streak, while the Sox play host to baseball's worst team for four games.
Detroit's 51/2-game lead in the AL Central doesn't look nearly as secure as its 10-game gap did just one week ago, not after the Sox's third straight victory, this one 7-3 on Sunday at U.S. Cellular Field.
"We're back in the race," declared Alex Cintron, who had a right to boast after playing hero with a bases-clearing double in the second inning that put the Sox ahead for good.
First baseman Paul Konerko said: "We don't expect to be picking up 41/2 games a week on them, but we tightened it up a little bit. And with  games left, we will make a race out of it anyway."
Obviously, the Tigers know it. Their frustration showed when catcher Ivan Rodriguez tried to charge plate umpire Tim Timmons after being called out on strikes in the eighth inning. In fact, the Tigers knew it even before they played Sunday.
"The test is on," manager Jim Leyland said, "and that's good, because I think if you're successful, it makes you better."
Is that a wise thing to say to a team coming off a 100-loss season?
"Everybody out there knows what's at stake and what's going on," Leyland said. "If you can't handle that, you're living under a rock."
And now it gets interesting, because the Tigers appear stuck. They couldn't stop the Sox on Sunday in what was arguably their most significant game of the season. And they couldn't get enough runs against Freddy Garcia, even though he admitted to "fighting it" the entire game.
Garcia, who hadn't won in his previous seven starts, battled through seven innings, perhaps saved by an umpire's keen eye and then retiring his last 12 hitters before turning the game over to the bullpen for two spotless innings.
"I got really mad and tried to concentrate," Garcia said about a fourth inning that nearly left the game tied.
Leading 4-2, Garcia gave up a leadoff double to Craig Monroe. Then Sean Casey lofted a pitch to right field that never came back.
"I thought it was a two-run homer, and I looked back and found out it was a double," Garcia said.
The hit was ruled a double by first-base umpire Jeff Nelson because the ball didn't clear the fence. Instead, it got caught behind an advertising board.
Much of the offensive output came from Cintron. He tripled in the first inning and scored on Konerko's sacrifice fly, then cleared the bases with his double an inning later.
The Sox added three runs in their last two at-bats and suddenly found themselves on a roll. They have beaten the Yankees and Tigers in five of their last six games, and they stayed two games ahead of Boston in the wild-card chase.
"It was a great feeling the way we played and went about our business," manager Ozzie Guillen said.
If the sweep had gone the other way, he said: "It could have been ugly. It was different than the way it could have been. I don't want to say we're back, but we're closer."
And now it gets interesting, because the Tigers have proved they are human. It appears they will at least be challenged for the AL Central championship, having lost nine of 12 to the Sox with seven still to play.
They sure picked a bad time to fall into their first funk of the season.
"You're not going to win 150 [games]," Guillen said. "Hopefully [their funk] will continue, but I don't think it will because they have a good rotation."