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A sometimes-irreverent look at Detroit's Boys of Summer, the Tigers, as they try to return to the top of the American League Central.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

It ain't over until it's over ...

Tuesday's Game 4 of the American League Division Series is an elimination game — everyone knows that. Jim Leyland felt no need to say anything to his team.

"I hope they know that we only got to win one to win this thing. No, I'm not one, 'win one for the skipper,' and all that stuff. No. That doesn't go in this business," Leyland said.
"Pretty much stay normal. Obviously we all know what's at stake tonight if we can pull this off, and what a nice moment this would be for the city. But, no, I don't really give any 'we gotta win this game.'

"I never talk to my team about winning, to be honest with you. I talk about preparing to win. I don't talk about we have to win, we have to win. I say no, we have to prepare. If we prepare, we give it our best shot. Whatever happens happens."

Nor did he want to make this out as a must-win for his own squad.

"I'm not going to put that pressure on anybody. We have to win another game, whether it's here or New York, whatever happens," Leyland said. "Everybody acts like all of a sudden this opponent isn't real good. This is one of the great teams in all of baseball. It's not easy to beat this team. I'm not going to put a lot of emphasis ... sure, we want to win it tonight. You know, would it be a perfect scenario to win in front of your home crowd? Would it be great? Would it be the gingerbread and all that? It would be beautiful. I'm not going to say we have to win this game or the series is over. We're going to play the game tonight and try to win it. The Yankees are going to play it and they're gonna try to win it.
"If they win, then we go there and they'll feel real good because it's in front of their fans. We gotta win one, they gotta win two."

The Tigers don't want to go back to New York for a Game 5, but they know that the Yankees are going to fight and claw to avoid elimination, too.

"Nothing’s going to be a slam dunk, no matter what. We’ve seen it before, teams in the World Series before, down three games, and come all the way back," Brandon Inge said. "You just have to take every game, one step at a time. You can’t get too cocky in the postseason. You just go out there, and do your business, and hopefully the chips will fall in place."

Especially now that the Rangers have clinched a berth in the American League Championship Series, the Tigers don't want to get caught looking ahead. If that happens, the Yankees could steal one, then grab the advantage back by sending it to a Game 5 at home.

And in a series like this one, momentum can turn on a dime.

"It can change on an inning. That's the bottom line. It can change on one at-bat. Because it is such a short series and teams get momentum and things can change," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I think you see how hard both teams are playing because you want to try to stay away from that, and if you are down, you're trying to change the momentum."


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