September 25, 2006


Tigers Clinch Playoff Berth (The Associated Press, September 25, 2006)

Brandon Inge was there at the low point, when the Detroit Tigers set an AL record for losses by going 43-119 in 2003. Detroit fought off its late-season slump and clinched its first playoff berth since 1987, scoring nine runs in the second inning Sunday and coasting to an 11-4 victory over the Kansas City Royals.

"I've been waiting for this," said Inge, who was given a champagne shampoo by teammates. "You don't think about this in spring training, and then something like this happens." [...]

Enjoying a turnaround season under new manager Jim Leyland, Detroit assured itself of no worse than the AL wild-card berth and headed into the final week of the season with a 1 1/2-game lead in the AL Central over second-place Minnesota.

The Tigers, who regained the best record in the major leagues at 94-62, went ahead early for the second straight day, following up on Saturday's 10-run first.

"It is really overwhelming," said Tigers owner Michael Ilitch, who bought the team in 1992. "It is probably one of the highlights of my life. In the final outs, we were all holding our breath. After the final out, I did a lot of hugging."

Verlander allowed two runs and six hits in six innings, extending Kansas City's losing streak to six.

"Those guys out there in the clubhouse made me pretty smart," Leyland said. "I don't take the credit. I think I've been a beneficiary of catching them at the right time."

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 25, 2006 8:34 AM

Don't forget that the single most important event in the Tigers resurgence was the NHL strike. That left Ilitch in the position to finally fund the Tigers and not bury ALL his money in the Red Wings.

Posted by: jeff at September 25, 2006 8:48 AM

I don't have access to Ilitch's financial status, but baseball has always been his true love. He's the anti-Steinbrenner. It was really neat watching the post-game celebration on FoxDetroit, lots of tears by everyone. Leyland, Todd Jones and even Ilitch were especially emotional. A nice counterpoint to the sterility of Yankee celebrations. Go Tigers, Go Red Wings.

Posted by: JimBobElrod at September 25, 2006 9:27 AM

Go [insert anyone but the Yankees here]!

Posted by: Bartman at September 25, 2006 2:25 PM

Interesting contrast between last year's suprise AL Central team manager in Ozzie and this year's in Leyland. Certainly a wide gap in personalities, though both obviously meshed with their particular teams (unless your one of those who believes the manager has very little to do with the success of his club, other than knowing when to change pitchers). Somewhre out there, there's got to be a team with Trammel's name on it.

Posted by: John at September 25, 2006 3:28 PM

Sterility of the Yankees celebrations?

This was actually the first year since, what, 96? that the Yankees actually looked like they were having fun at their celebration.

Sure, Jeter and RJ were poker faced talking about "this is only a step to where we want to get -- the ring", but a lot of the kids, especially the Dominicans like Melky Cabrera and soon-to-be batting champion Robbie Cano were going absolutely nuts. They attacked Jeter while he was on camera mouthing his usual platitudes and dumped about a 12 pack of Lambatt's on him.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at September 25, 2006 3:44 PM

There are no surprise managers--just starting staffs that gel for a year or two.

Posted by: oj at September 25, 2006 4:13 PM

Why should they have fun, they all hate each other and with just cause in many cases.

Posted by: oj at September 25, 2006 4:16 PM

Shhhh. That's the beauty of it. Melky and Robbie, et al. can barely speak English, so they don't know that. That's why it it was a treat to watch the Yankees, or some of them at least, actually celebrating something.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at September 25, 2006 7:53 PM

This is also the first year since 1999 or so that that Yanks have clinched a pennant a week in advance of the actual playoffs. Since then they've never been free and clear of the BoSox until the final day or so, which has fueled the media obession that beating out the Sawx in some way is more important than the ALDS or the ALCS if Boston's not there, and at least on the same level as actually winning the Series.

We'll see if having a chance to catch their breath and concentrate on someone besides the Red Sox has a positive effect on the team's admittedly lackluster post-season efforts of recent years.

Posted by: John at September 26, 2006 12:38 AM