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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.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

WS PREVIEW: Recap of the Tigers 2012 postseason run

AL West champion Oakland A’s vs. AL Central champion Detroit Tigers 
Detroit wins, 3-2
GAME 1 ALDS — Tigers 3, A’s 1
(at Comerica Park) With the heart of the order going 0-for-9, the Tigers got plenty of contributions from other sources, giving Justin Verlander just enough run support to overcome the leadoff home run he allowed to Coco Crisp to start the game. Verlander would take that and run, striking out 11 batters, and turn a 3-1 lead over to the bullpen. Despite a couple of long, loud outs by the homer-happy A’s, the back end of the ‘pen would close out the win.
“The way to win games is to get contributions from everybody. Miguel (Cabrera) and Prince (Fielder) can’t do it all the time,” said Alex Avila, who had his second career postseason home run. “Everybody else is going to have to step up and when those guys come through, it’ll be nice to see. It’s good. It kind of lengthens the lineup and makes it much tougher for pitchers.”

GAME 2 ALDS — Tigers 5, A’s 4
(at Comerica Park) The tenor of the back-and-forth affair — in which both teams scored a late run on a wild pitch, and Tigers rookie Avisail Garcia threw a runner out at the plate — shifted radically in the seventh inning, when two runs scored when Coco Crisp dropped a Miguel Cabrera fly ball to center field. Detroit spent nearly its entire bench in an eighth-inning rally to tie it at 4-4, then relier Al Alburquerque kissed the ball when he got out of a jam in the top of the ninth, setting up the Tigers to win it in walk-off fashion.
The Tigers did just that, as A’s closer Grant Balfour gave up two hits, then walked Prince Fielder to load the bases, choosing to pitch instead to Don Kelly, who’d scored the tying run an inning earlier as a pinch runner. Kelly’s sacrifice fly scored Omar Infante with the game-winning run.
“Those are the moments you live for,” said Kelly, who’d been designated for assignment in August, then brought back in September. “That’s why you play the game, just to be out there and be able to help the team, especially with the game on the line.”

GAME 3 ALDS —A’s 2, Tigers 0
(at O.o Coliseum, Oakland) Anibal Sanchez pitched well enough to keep the Tigers in it, keeping it a one-run game into the fifth, and a two-run game into the seventh. But the offense could muster nothing against Brett Anderson, who — helped by a homer-robbing catch by Coco Crisp — combined with three relievers for a four-hit shutout.
“Well, they pitched and played a perfect game. You have to tip your hat to them. Nothing you could do about it. ... I think Coco gave them a lot of momentum when he took the home run away from (Prince) Fielder,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “They played a perfect game. I think Coco’s catch really got them into it.”

GAME 4 ALDS — A’s 4, Tigers 3
(at O.o Coliseum, Oakland) The Tigers got a homer from Prince Fielder, and scratched together two more runs, and turned a slim lead over to the bullpen. That’s where it got hairy, as closer Jose Valverde allowed three straight hits to start the ninth inning — including the game-tying two-run double by Seth Smith — and then gave up the game-winning hit to goat-turned-hero Coco Crisp two outs later.
“Yeah, well, it’s baseball. I mean, that’s why this is the greatest game of all. It looked like we were going to get it. We didn’t do it. We didn't quite get the 27 outs, that’s part of the game,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “You get tested all the time in this game. And this is a good test. We’re down like the Wild Card situation was, one game, pretty simple. I thought we played our hearts out. Tonight we just didn’t close it out.”
The blown save allowed the A’s to tie the series 2-2, and set up a winner-take-all Game 5.

GAME 5 ALDS — Tigers 6, A’s 0
(at O.o Coliseum, Oakland) Justin Brooks Verlander, ladies and gentlemen. The Tigers saddled up their horse and rode him to an ALDS-clinching victory, as he pitched a four-hit shutout, striking out 11. That put him in elite company — think Sandy Koufax — as one of just two pitchers to strike out double digits in a shutout win in a postseason series-deciding game.
“For me, personally, this has got to be right up there. I think this is No. 1. The two no‑hitters are obviously up there, but that’s something a little bit different,” Verlander said, ranking the performance among his best. “This is a win-or-go-home, my team needs me. And I was able to go out there and have one of the better performances I've had. For me, I think this is No. 1, personally.”

AL East champion New York Yankees vs. AL Central champion Detroit Tigers 
Detroit wins, 4-0
GAME 1 ALCS — Tigers 6, Yankees 4 (12 innings)
(at Yankee Stadium, New York) Doug Fister worked himself out of countless jams, and combined with the bullpen shut the Yankees out through eight innings. But the whole victory train derailed in the ninth inning, though, when closer Jose Valverde gave up two-run home runs to Ichiro Suzuki and Raul Ibanez, tying the game at 4-4, and sending it to extra innings. Delmon Young’s RBI double in the 12th proved the game-winner, taking his teammate off the hook.
“Well, we talked about this from spring training on, I didn't know we had to take that many, but we have been taking punches all year,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “If we are going to be good enough, we have to be able to take a punch, and we took a big punch. We took a right cross in the ninth inning but we survived it.”
The Yankees took a more devastating blow than just the game loss, though, as Derek Jeter was carried off the field, having fractured his ankle.

GAME 2 ALCS — Tigers 3, Yankees 0
(at Yankee Stadium, New York) Hiroki Kuroda held the Tigers hitless through five innings, but the Tigers got to him in the seventh, getting the go-ahead run after Quintin Berry hit a ground-rule double to center, and scored on a groundout. Avisail Garcia provided a pinch-hit RBI single, as the Tigers added two runs against the Yankees bullpen, and Phil Coke finished off Anibal Sanchez’s shutout gem with a two-inning save.
“I thought both starting pitchers were absolutely terrific. I haven’t seen that much of Kuroda. I thought he was terrific, and Sanchez was matching him inning for inning,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said, referring to it the best game he’d seen catcher Alex Avila ever call. “They changed speeds. Sometimes they threw this and they were looking for that, vice versa, and looking for this. ... And he was terrific. This is a tough place to pitch with a tough lineup and a short porch. And a whole bunch of left‑handed hitters, it is not easy. That was quite a feat.”

GAME 3 ALCS — Tigers 2, Yankees 1
(at Comerica Park) As Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven tweeted during the game, “That horse Verlander is at it again!” Verlander carried his personal streak of shutout innings to 23, and the Tigers starters’ streak past 30 innings before giving up a solo homer to Eduardo Nunez in the ninth. Phil Coke would come on for another save, striking out Raul Ibanez with the potential tying and go-ahead runs on base.
“Normally I guess you don't take Secretariat out in the final furlong, but that was pretty much it for him,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said of pulling Verlander. “I was not going to let him face Ichiro (Suzuki).”

GAME 4 ALCS — Tigers 8, Yankees 1
(at Comerica Park) Not wanting to let the Yankees hang around and make a series out of it, the Tigers pounded NY ace CC Sabathia unmercifully, knocking him out in the fourth inning with four extra-base hits in the span of five batters. Jhonny Peralta let the home run parade with a pair of shots, while Austin Jackson and Miguel Cabrera also went deep. The 16 Tigers hits was a postseason franchise record.
“It was good because you really don't want to get the series extended, because anything can happen,” ALCS MVP Delmon Young said. “And with the way our starting four pitchers pitched, made it pretty easy for us.”


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