By CHRIS ZADOROZNY, Sports Editor
It’s the 2012 MLB Playoffs. A new setup for the playoffs has been implemented, and the Tigers have benefited from it. They won the Central Division, and won the third seed, but because of the new format, they were awarded the first two games of the five.
So far, it’s working out in their favor. The Tigers defeated the Oakland Athletics in Game 1, 3-1 and in Game 2, 5-4 with a walkoff win, to take a 2-0 lead in the American League Division Series.
The playoff atmosphere at the ballpark on Sunday was electric. Although very cold, the fans brought the energy with them from the previous night.
The Oakland Athletics are a very good team. They defeated the Texas Rangers in a three game sweep in Arlington to win the American League West Division on the final game of the season.
It was a shock to all of the baseball world, but it’s working out in favor of the Tigers, and because the Athletics won, that meant the Rangers had to play the Baltimore Orioles in the Wild Card game. That didn’t work out so well for them either as the Orioles won that game, and the rights to play the Yankees in the ALDS.
Looking ahead, the Tigers have the best shot from the American League to go to the World Series. They had a 4-3 record against Oakland in the regular season, and defeated them two out of three times down the stretch, when Oakland started winning.
The Tigers were 4-6 against the New York Yankees in the regular season, who are currently battling the Baltimore Orioles in the other ALDS series. The Tigers are 3-3 against the Orioles during the regular season. Baltimore and New York were battling down the stretch for the American League East Division title, that eventually went to the Yankees.
Not only do the records favor the Tigers, but the lineup in both games showed that this team is deep. One night after starting Quintin Berry in left field, and Alex Avila at catcher, the following day, in Game 2, Jim Leyland put a different lineup out there.
He started rookie Avisail Garcia in right field, Andy Dirks in left, and put Gerald Laird behind the plate. Later in the game, he pinch hit Berry for Garcia, Danny Worth for Jhonny Peralta, and Alex Avila for Laird. It didn’t do much, but it did change how the A’s pitched. Then, came the move of the night. Don Kelly pinch ran for Delmon Young, and eventually, Kelly hit the game winning walk off hit to win the game for the Tigers.
At the beginning of August, Kelly was designated for assignment to the Toledo Mud Hens, and he accepted it. A month later, he was called back up when the rosters expanded and on Sunday night, he proved his worth.
A championship team receives production from everywhere, and other players pick up each other. This is what a championship team looks like. Where every batter picks up each other, the team produces when it has to and wins important games.
The Tigers have the best chance to win the World Series in 2012, and right now they have two down, with nine to go.