Tigers did what they needed to in Oakland; why does it seem so disappointing?
DETROIT — Last year, the Detroit Tigers took one of three games in Oakland to win the American League Division Series in five games.
This year, they’ve already got that one road win needed to steal home field advantage from the A’s again.
So why does returning to Detroit with the series tied at 1-1 this time feel so different than being up 2-0 after two games last year?
Obvious answer: The 17-inning scoring drought, which forced the Tigers to waste perhaps the best outing of the season for Justin Verlander in the 1-0, walk-off loss in Game 2.
The correct answer: It shouldn’t.
The Tigers are still in perfect position to wrap the series up with two home games — Game 3 at 1:07 p.m. Monday, and Game 4 at 5:07 or 7:07 p.m. Tuesday.
“Like I said, runs will be stingy. I don’t care how good you think your offense is. Runs will always be normally stingy in postseason play. And I think that’s right,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.
“We were awful disappointed (Saturday) night. It was a great game. And we only had a couple of shots. They ended up winning that game. So it’s like I told the coaches afterwards, I says, ‘Well, you know, we did come on the road and get a split. So let’s not be too disappointed.’
“I think it was just one of those games where we were disappointed because we didn’t score a run and it was 1‑0. If we’d got beat 5‑1, I think everybody would have that attitude, ‘Well, we went out here, we got the split. We’re going home. Let’s see what we can do.’
“But because it was such a tough game, an emotional game, and a draining game, I think we were a little more disappointed.”
The Tigers have the ability to wrap it up at home, like they did in their first appearance in the ALDS, in 2006, when they won Game 2 in New York, then took the two home games to beat the Yankees, 3-1.
But it wouldn’t be the end of the world to play a Game 5 on the road.
“Yeah, that’s a possibility (of wrapping it up). We have to win the one Monday first, but that’s a possibility. To be honest with you, a lot will be made about, you know, if we don’t, if we split here, having to go back there and play there,” Alex Avila said.
“Couple years ago we had to do that, had to go back and play New York in New York. And last year we had to win a game in Oakland. So regardless of what happens, we feel pretty confident we’ll win anywhere.”
The Tigers did that — played Game 5 on the road, and won — in both 2011 and 2012.
A.J. Burnett’s gem in Game 4 of the ’11 ALDS sent the series back to New York — exactly where Jose Valverde didn’t want it to go when he said “I think the series will finish in our house ... the series is not going back to New York.”
Yankees fans booed him endlessly ... until he finished closing out a 3-2 win.
Last year, the Tigers needed just one win of the last three in the series — thanks to the funky 2-3 format — but lost their first two cracks to close it out in Oakland, needing Verlander to come through in Game 5. He did with a complete-game, four-hit shutout, sending the Tigers on the ALCS.
Still, there are only so many times you can go to that well.
“(Monday) is a challenging game. We need it here again. We need this win. We need to hang on that situation because if we’re ahead, we’re going to feel more comfortable for the next game,” said Monday’s starter for the Tigers, Anibal Sanchez. “We need to come early and try to get some runs, and I’m going to do the best I can, try to be aggressive from the beginning.”