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A blog By Matthew B. Mowery can be found at:

• • Thursday, September 29, 2011



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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Squad could provide more postseason memories

–– DETROIT Postseason. The Tigers. This is what we see. n A faraway shot of the field at Tiger Stadium. The Cardinals Lou Brock, one of the greatest base runners ever, rounding third..Willie Horton picking up the ball in left field. Brock bolting home. Bill Freehan applying the tag. The photos showing Brock’s foot stopping inches short of the plate. n Freehan catching a popup. Mickey Lolich jumping into his arms with every bit of his ample

girth. Freehan carrying him around as if he could lift the world. He probably could have at that moment. The Tigers rallying from a three games to one deficit to beat the Cardinals in the 1968 World Series. n Sparky Anderson miked in the dugout, yelling toward Kirk Gibson in the batter’s box at Tiger Stadium. “He don’t want to walk you.” Gibby looking back at Sparky. The blazing fastball from San Diego’s Goose Gossage. The drive deep into the right field upper deck. Gibson

Pat Caputo COLUMNIST jumping for unmitigated joy. The 1984 world champs. n The Tigers, with the whole world thinking it would be different, beating the Yankees in the American League Division Series.

Players running out of the dugout with bottles of Champagne and showering fans in the seats down the left field line with it. n Oakland’s Huston Street pitching, Magglio Ordonez swinging. The ball hanging in the air for what seemed like ages against the backdrop of a Downtown Detroit skyline as it crossed the left field wall at Comerica Park. The celebration of an American League pennant in 2006. Postseason baseball is magical. If there is any town that understands

that, it’s this one. The ‘68 title brought this area together after the destruction of the riots the summer before. The ‘84 championship came in the years after a recession drove many people from Michigan to the Sun Belt because of a meltdown in the auto industry. We were in a one-state recession in 2006, soon to be joined by the rest of the country. Yet, postseason baseball helped See CAPUTO, Page 3

Back to the postseason It’s Tigers’ first playoff appearance since 2006 By Matthew B. Mowery

Ito think we’re also a team that nobody really wants face. We’ve got kind of that good group of talent.

Journal Register Newspapers

DETROIT — No one thought it would take this long to get back to the postseason. When the Detroit Tigers made it to the World Series as a Wild Card underdog in 2006, it almost seemed too easy. Despite backing into the playoffs with a second-half swoon that would soon turn into standard operating procedure for the franchise, the magical march through the postseason — punctuated by that unforgettable, series-clinching homer by Magglio Ordonez — pumped up expectations. Never mind that it was out of nowhere, and — if you’re being fair — too early in the resurrection of a franchise that had been morbid through the 1990s. This was supposed to become a yearly occurrence. “When you go to the World Series you always think you’re coming back the next year, and the next year, and the next year,” admitted Magglio Ordonez in spring training this year. That certainly didn’t happen. Five years went by with nothing but disappointment, no matter how much owner Mike Ilitch spent. In 2007, they merely couldn’t keep up with the red-hot Indians down the stretch. In 2008, a star-studded lineup that was supposed to

This one is different. “A little bit different. We’re definitely not the sleeper. I think everybody knew we had a good team. In ’06, we just came out of nowhere. The Indians earlier this year remindme a lot of that, catching everybody off — Justin Verlander ed guard. But this year, you look at the talent on Tigers starting pitcher this team and people expected us to be, if not where we are now, right there,” ace Justin Verlander said. “I think we’re also a team that nobody really wants to face. We’ve got This year, regardless of how many times kind of that good group of talent. We hit the manager Jim Leyland hammered it home ball well, we play good enough defense and that this was a good team, no matter how many times guys like Brandon Inge call this we pitch well. ... It’s a team, like I said, I don’t the best team they’ve played on — on paper think anybody wants to play us.” They had been telling us all along that they — fans were understandably reticent. were good, but how many believed them? Too many old wounds. To be clear, though, this is not the Tigers of Shoot, there were those who advocated a housecleaning if this team came up short. 2006. Or even of 2009. “I think the only difference is (in) 2006 I The 2011 Tigwasn’t getting fired every day — a little bit ers had no such different this year,” joked Leyland, who did collapse, no come into the season as a lame duck, before swoon, no lethe and GM Dave Dombrowski earned middown, maybe season contract extensions. finally erasing “But no, I think we took care of, we were all the bad able to take care of negative conversations memories of about us. We were able to do that because the past by of what we did. ... making the “I think 2006 was a little different, playoffs for you’re right, it had been down for quite a just the secwhile and I think for the most part, the ond time in last few years, and I don’t mean this to 24 years, winsound wrong but I think it’s been pretty exning their citing and I think people have been expecting first division a little bit more because they thought we title since were pretty good.” 1987. After years of being accused of crying wolf, this would be a perfect time for Leyland to

reinvent run-scoring, instead finished last. In 2009, when it looked like all the stars might be aligning again, with the Tigers spending nearly six months in first place, they managed a collapse for the ages, blowing a seven-game lead in September. That may be when the hope stopped, when the faithful began to doubt. It was going to take something special to bring them back with all their hearts. Even last year, before a string of injuries quickly ruined what looked like it could be a bounce-back season, fans were hesitant to buy in. With good reason.

See PLAYOFFS, Page 3

Tigers under Jim Leyland The Tigers’ A.L. Central finishes since Jim Leyland took over as manager in 2006: 2011: First 2010: Third 2009: Second 2008: Fifth 2007: Second 2006: Second (A.L. wild card)


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Thursday, September 29, 2011

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PLAYOFFS: Tigers are back in postseason for first time since 2006 Continued from Page 2 gloat, right? To say ‘I told you so’ to all his host of critics. “I just think about winning. That’s what I thought about. Ever since I’ve been manager, whether it be Detroit or Pittsburgh or anyplace else I’ve managed. My job is to try to win games and win as many as you can,” the skipper said. “I’m really not one of those ‘I told you so’ guys. Believe me, I’m not. I understand all that stuff. I think a lot of it’s fair, some of it’s unfair. You learn to live with that kind of stuff, one way or the other. But you don’t gloat about that. “I’m gloating because we won the Central Division. I’m not gloating because somebody in Muskegon, Mich., didn’t like my lineup on April 7. Believe me. I understand all that. I’m gloating because we won the Central and I think we did a DAMN good job. It’s only just beginning. But I’m not gloating about stuff like that. I could care less about stuff like that. I understand that. It goes with the territory. I’m happy because we won more games than anybody else in the Central Division and we’re going to be one of the

elite eight. “And I’m happy the way we did it. Obviously, nobody can say we backed in.” No, they didn’t. Thanks to that 12-game win streak — longer than any put together by the fabled ’68 or ’84 crews —and a 13-1 start to September, there was no swoon, no collapse. “The whole year, I talked about it, too. I kept saying, hey, we haven’t played our best baseball. I think you look around this clubhouse and you’d kind of see us get hot and cool off, hot and cool off, and we never really just played ball to our capabilities over a month or so,” Verlander said. “I think since the All-Star break, we’ve played that kind of consistent baseball. Obviously, you mix in a 12-game win streak and that helps a lot. But I think we’re hitting our stride at the right time.” Certainly a different feeling than 2009, when the Tigers’ September stride was a stumble. When the entire final month of the season was spent on eggshells, with one eye on the rear-view mirror, the constantly sinking feeling that was climaxed by the one-game playoff — the noto-

rious, 12-inning Game 163 — against the Twins. That game is rarely mentioned, but always remembered. “I think it’s just understood. Obviously, it’s mentioned, in passing here or there. That game’s talked about. We’ll realize every once in a while how good of a game 163 was, but every time we talk about 163, we talk about how we never should’ve even been there. That’s probably the most important factor out of all of them,” Inge said, noting the difference between this team’s mindset and that one’s. “We were playing the last few games ... more of watching the standings, watching the teams, and hoping that the other team wouldn’t catch us, as opposed to just burying every team we played, and that way, it would’ve taken care of that. It’s more of an aggressive outlook, as opposed to being passive, and waiting around for another team to catch you.” With that memory firmly entrenched in the mind of those players who were on both teams, there was a conscious effort not to let it happen again. By holding onto to that memory, there was a chance

AP photo

Detroit’s Austin Jackson is congratulated after hitting a solo home run against Oakland earlier this season. they could finally wash away the stain. Finally exorcise the ghosts of collapses past. And back in the postseason for the first time since 2006, maybe the view in the rearview mirror doesn’t look quite as bad. “One thing I do look at, one think I am proud of, and I’m not talking about me, I’m talking about the Tigers. In the last six years we’ve actu-

ally been to the postseason three of the six years, counting the 163rd game against the Twins. That was a playoff game,” Leyland said. “That’s not too bad. We want to do better, we want to get greedy. I wish the Tigers had 27 banners like the Yankees do but that’s not the way it is. Probably not going to happen, but the fact is it’s been pretty good.”

If the Tigers can add to their own storied postseason history with another October run — a run they fully feel they’re capable of making — they’ll more than erase any bad taste that’s still lingering from the last four years of frustration. They believe they can. And it appears that a lot of outsiders are starting to, as well.

CAPUTO: This year’s squad could provide some more great memories Continued from Page 2

season too often, but they usually do pretty well once us. It warmed our collective they get there. soul and heart. It also This version, in the playbrought intense drama. offs for the first time since Thrilled us. Gave us somethe ‘06 pennant, is more than thing to pull together for in a capable of continue that tracommon cause. Pitch-bydition. pitch. There isn’t a team in baseThis must be the only town ball which can match combiwhere this can happen: A nation of Justin Verlander crusty old manager, Jim Ley- leading the rotation and Miland, starts welling up, guel Cabrera hitting cleanup knowing what it meant to be in the batting order. A strong in the postseason to the case can be made the Tigers people, because his father have the two most valuable was a blue collar worker not players in the American so far away, just over the League. Jose Valverde had a Michigan-Ohio border. remarkable season. There One thing about the Tighas been a more consistently ers, they don’t get to the post- effective closer in 2011. Jhon-

ny Peralta has played as well as any AL shortstop, Alex Avila as well as any catcher. Victor Martinez is amazing clutch hitter. Starting pitcher Doug Fister and left fielder Delmon Young completed the puzzle when acquired in July. It’s not a fluke the Tigers won the division. They are a high payroll team with all the necessary parts to win the pennant, maybe even the World Series, although the Phillies do seem to be clearly the class of the field. Concerns? Yeah. There are a few. While the Tigers have excellent late-inning relievers in Valverde, Joaquin Be-

noit and Phil Coke, their middle and long relievers aren’t nearly as solid. Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello, after Verlander and Fister in the starting rotation, lack consistency. The Tigers are suspect defensively. They have really good range in center field with Austin Jackson. Avila is a marvelous catcher. After that, their range is limited especially in the corner outfield spots. In the 2006 World Series, it was the Tigers’ fielding which did them in. They not only have to get to batted balls, but catch them once there - and make good

throws. During the regular season, the Tigers were able to overcome their flaws by swinging the bat exceptionally well especially following the All Star break. It more than made up for their lack of range defensively and speed on the base paths. To win the postseason, it’s important to have unexpected heros. Lolich did not have one his best seasons in ‘68. In 1984, it was Rusty Kuntz who knocked in the go-ahead run in the deciding game against the Padres. Remember Alexis Gomez at Oakland in the 2006 ALCS.? Leyland has his detractors,

but he has captured a world championship and two pennants. It doesn’t seem likely he will be outmaneuvered. The Tigers aren’t a perfect team by any stretch, but they were better than anybody could have reasonably expected during the regular season. They are capable of producing more snaps shots we’ll all remember in the postseason, too. Pat Caputo is a columnist for Journal Register Newspapers. Contact him at” and read his blog at You can follow him on Twitter at patcaputo98

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

All the right moves –– DETROIT No matter how good the team is, no Major League Baseball squad finishes the season with the exact same makeup it started out with. It’s natural selection, applied to the sports world: Evolve or die. So it’s no surprise that the Tigers will have a much different lineup on the field for the first game of the playoffs this weekend than the one that took the field at Yankee Stadium to start the 2011 campaign 26 weeks earlier. The Tigers have evolved in-season, and come out better for it. In almost magical fashion, over the course of slightly more than a year, the Tigers have taken the majority of their weaknesses — the No. 5 starter, the middle of the bullpen, shortstop, No. 5 hitter, catcher — and transformed them into strengths. To manager Jim Leyland, he discounts any notion of a magical transformation, laying the credit right at the feet of his general manager for getting him the proper pieces to finish the puzzle. “All along, we’ve had a good team. We’ve had a lot of nice pieces. I think if you want to talk about something working out, really you’ve gotta send some bouquets to Dave Dombrowski. You know, a couple of years ago, we wanted some guys, it didn’t work out. This year, it wasn’t magic, it was good,

hard work on Dave’s part, the guys we picked up worked out. And we had a good nucleus to start with,” Leyland said. “We’re a better team than we were. If we had the same team that we were in April, May, I don’t know that we’d be 25 games over .500. “I think we still could’ve won the Central division, but I don’t know that we’d be 25 over. There’s no magic about it.” As much as anyone, the credit for building the first division winner in 24 years has to be given to Dombrowski who came into the season as a lame duck, in the final year of his contract. At this point, you can’t argue that he hasn’t earned his mideseason contract extension. In fact, you could argue that — along with Arizona GM Kevin Towers and Tampa GM Andrew Friedman — he should be one of the leading candidates for Executive of the Year. Let’s look at a few of the moves he made that worked out: n On the same day in late November the Tigers inked set-up man Joaquin Benoit to a freeagent deal — one of the biggest contracts ever for a reliever who is not a closer — they also signed some guy with a cartoonish-sounding surname to a Major League contract: Alberto Alburquerque. No one expected Benoit to put up the video-game numbers he had with the Rays last year — and he hasn’t — but he worked through a rough patch early to become the “unsung hero” of the bullpen, according to Leyland, setting the table for Jose Valverde, who’s been MLB’s best closer this season. Those two are the reason

the Tigers are 75-0 when leading after seven innings. But the rookie Alburquerque has been the surprise glue to hold the middle innings together, sliding right into the big leagues (pun intended) like he’d been there for years. He’s best among all AL relievers in batting average allowed (.145), strikeouts per nine innings (14.03) and hits per nine innings (4.46). If not for a rash of bad luck and injuries midseason, he’d probably be getting some consideration for Rookie of the Year. “That credit goes to (assistant GM) Al Avila. I didn’t even know who Alburquerque was, to be honest with you. He was a guy that we signed as a six-year free agent, told me he had a great arm, blah, blah, blah, but I didn’t know him,” said Leyland, who wasn’t even sure in spring training how much the rookie would be able to harness his command. Offering him a big-league contract was the reason the Tigers were able to lure him here, too. n Three days later, the Tigers signed Victor Martinez to a big-money contract, knowing they were getting a professional hitter to plug in at designated hitter, and protect cleanup hitter Miguel Cabrera in the batting order. And the four-year, $50 million deal may have been a bargain, considering that the Tigers got both a guy who’d knock in 100-plus runs, making opponents pay for avoiding Cabrera, but they also got the unquestioned leader of their clubhouse. “(The effect is) not necessarily just on Miggy, no. The effect you see on Miggy’s the effect you see on the whole

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clubhouse. He lightens the mood in everybody in here. He’s been an integral part, not just on the field. Obviously, we’ve all seen what he is on the field,” said ace Justin Verlander, who noted it didn’t take long for his influence to be felt. “Not long. He’s just got that kind of personality, real open, real jovial, light-hearted, infectious personality.” n A few weeks earlier, the Tigers had inked veterans Brandon Inge, and Jhonny Peralta to new deals, hoping that they’d solidified the left side of their infield for the next two years. They’d add a one-year deal for Magglio Ordonez in December and a two-year deal for Ryan Raburn in January. In the cases of Peralta and Ordonez, the club declined contract options, enabling them to re-sign both on more cost-effective deals. Considering he was acquired from the Indians at last year’s trade deadline for a marginal prospect, Peralta has been a bargain-and-ahalf for the Tigers, locking down a shortstop position that had been in flux ever since Carlos Guillen began to slow down, contributing 20 home runs and 80 RBI. The other three? Well, more on that later. n In mid-January, the Tigers traded Armando Galarraga to the Diamondbacks, after signing veteran Brad Penny — coming off a few injury-plagued years — to a one-year flier of a contract replace him in the rotation. As rocky as Penny’s season has seemed, he’s been every bit worth the $3 million the Tigers paid him. “We signed Brad to give us innings, and hopefully win 10 games. He gave us a little more than that. He gave us a lot of innings (181 2/3). We kept him healthy all year, and I’m proud of that, and he got 11 wins. That’s pretty good for the guy that we signed to be our fifth starter,” Leyland said. Like the skipper said earlier, that made the Tigers a good — but not great — team, one that was in contention for the division crown as early as June, but one that wouldn’t pull away from the competition until August. You know, after the trade deadline. That’s when Dombrowski really put his stamp on this season. And he did it by admitting there were some things that hadn’t worked out like planned. Ordonez, coming off ankle surgery, wasn’t ready to be his old self early in the season, spending some time on the disabled list. Raburn wasn’t ready to be an everyday player, fitting more and more into a utility role as the season wore on, taking much

Pennant-winning teams The Detroit Tigers’ American League championship teams: 2006: Lost to St. Louis in World Series 1984: Defeated San Diego in World Series 1968: Defeated St. Louis in World Series 1945: Defeated Chicago Cubs in World Series 1940: Lost to Cincinnati in World Series 1935: Defeated Chicago Cubs in World Series 1934: Lost to St. Louis Cardinals in World Series 1909: Lost to Pittsburgh in World Series 1908: Lost to Chicago Cubs in World Series 1907: Lost to Chicago Cubs in World Series of the playing time at second from youngsters Will Rhymes (demoted) and Scott Sizemore (traded), neither of whom had worked out, either. Left-handed reliever David Purcey, acquired from the A’s in the trade for Sizemore, didn’t work out either, and was designated for assignment. The conversion of Phil Coke into a starter failed on two fronts, as it weakened the bullpen and provided very little for the rotation. Midseason, he was moved back into his comfort zone. And Inge — the longesttenured player on the Tigers — had struggled so mightily with the bat that the team had been forced to trade for Wilson Betemit, and offer Inge the ego-swallowing option of accepting an assignment to Triple-A, or an outright release. Had Dombrowski been stubborn, dug in his heels and insisted his blueprint had been right, the division title would have been far more difficult to come by. Instead, he addressed each and every one of the flaws. His coup-de-grace was when he sent four prospects to Seattle for a starting pitcher with a 3-12 record in Doug Fister, and a reliever in David Pauley who had just as many wins at the time. It was the sports equivalent of breaking a champagne bottle over the prow of a ship at launch, as the Tigers merely took off from there. “You know what? Everybody’s jumping on that wagon now. We felt we did a good job with our scouts and our organization, coaches, of picking a guy that we thought would really help us. But to think that he’d be (this good), that’d be a lie. We had no idea. I’d like to say we looked into a crystal ball, and knew it,” Leyland said of Fister, who went 8-1 in 10 starts for the Tigers, with a 1.79 ERA, dredging up memories of the 1987 trade for Doyle Alexander (9-0, 1.53 ERA). The difference? Alexander was 36, and out of baseball two years later. Fister is 27 and under team control until 2015. And Charlie Furbush probably isn’t John Smoltz. “Up to this point, we’ve caught lightning in a bottle,” Leyland said. “But we really

like him. ... Truthfully, you’ve gotta credit your general manager, because I like a lot of guys, but you can’t always trade for him. He pulled it off.” That, too, brings up a valid point. The moves that Dombrowski DIDN’T make are almost as impressive in hindsight. Everyone wanted the Tigers to sign Adam Dunn for the spot they gave to Martinez. To say Dunn has been a colossal disappointment in Chicago is an insult to understatements. And Ubaldo Jimenez — who may have cost as much as two members of the Tigers’ current rotation, as well as prized prospect Jacob Turner — hasn’t exactly panned out too well for the Cleveland Indians, who gave up a boatload to get him. The irony was that Fister and Jimenez faced off in Monday night’s game. The Tigers were fighting for home-field advantage, while the Indians were aiming for a winning record. Dombrowski’s acquisition of Delmon Young in a waiver trade in mid-August — within days of Brennan Boesch’s suffering what was eventually a season-ending thumb injury — was tantamount to highway robbery. It allowed Leyland to plug into the third spot in the order a guy who’d been in the MVP conversation as recently as last year. It’s hardly the first time Dombrowski has tried to boost his team’s playoff chances in his tenure in Detroit. He traded for slugger Aubrey Huff and starter Jarrod Washburn in 2009, and failed miserably with both. Huff hit .189 with 13 RBI in 40 games down the stretch, while Washburn won just one of eight starts before being shelved by a knee injury that eventually ended his career. “Sometimes things work out, sometimes they don’t,” Leyland admitted. “You always try to make good decisions. Sometimes, it’s like (former Pirates manager) Chuck Tanner used to say: It really wasn’t a bad decision, it was just one that didn’t work out.” This year, they’ve all worked, to some extent. And that’s why the Tigers are packing for the postseason for the first time since 2006.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Page 5

Fister part of elite club of Tiger heroes When we connect the dots to link the Tigers’ 2011 division-championship team to the franchise’s past, three names will be drawn together: Woodie Fryman, Doyle Alexander and Doug Fister. Acquired from the Seattle Mariners in a non-waiver trade-deadCOLUMNIST line deal, Fister, a right-handed pitcher, has posted an 8-1 record with a 1.79 ERA to help the Tigers run away from the

George Pohly

competition in the American League Central Division. The Fister story is one Tigers fans have read before. Alexander was acquired on Aug. 12, 1987, in a trade with Atlanta for a young, untested right-hander named John Smoltz. The Braves rode contributions from Smoltz’s strong arm to multiple post-season appearances, and Atlanta won the 1995 World Series championship with Smoltz’s help. But the Tigers of 1987 didn’t complain about how the deal worked out. The right-handed Alexander, who was 36 when he became a Tiger, made 11 starts and went 9-0 as Detroit won a classic race with Tor-

onto for the A.L. East Division championship, the team’s last division crown until this year. Fryman had a similar impact on the 1972 Tigers. Four years removed from winning the 1968 World Series, with an aging nucleus, the ’72 Tigers found themselves in a stretch-drive battle with the Boston Red Sox for the East Division title. Picked up off waivers on Aug. 2, when he was 32, the left-handed Fryman went 103 with a 1.79 ERA. He beat the Red Sox, the team that slipped past Detroit in the epic 1967 American League pennant race, in the final series of the regular season to help the Tigers win

the East Division title. Fryman was 70 when he died on Feb. 4, 2011, continuing what has been a rough stretch of recent years for Tigers fans, who have coped with the passing of heroes such as Sparky Anderson, Ernie Harwell and Mark Fidrych. But memories of the contributions of Fryman and Alexander are still vivid, still important to those who care about Detroit baseball. Fister is only 27 years old. He might enjoy several more productive seasons pitching for Detroit. Fryman and Alexander were in the twilight of their careers when they became Tigers. Fryman pitched in Detroit

AP photo

Detroit Tigers catcher Alex Avila, left, talks to pitcher Doug Fister during the sixth inning of a game against the Kansas City Royals earlier this year. from 1972-74, compiling an overall record of 22-25. Alexander was a Tiger from 1987-89 and lost as many games (29) as he won for Detroit. Neither Fryman nor Alexander ranks with all-time

Tigers for longevity, or in any statistical category, but they were part of two of the more wonderful summers of baseball around here. Welcome to the club, Mr. Fister.

Top 10 Moments of the 2011 Season

APRIL 6, at BALTIMORE (7-3 win) — Tigers manager Jim Leyland noticed how tight his young catcher, Alex Avila, was at the start of the season. So he told him to relax, and play like he had in college at Alabama — you know, have fun. Boy, did Avila ever, going 4-for-5 with a home run, a double and five RBI in the Tigers win. It may not be the sole impetus for his AllStar season, but it certainly didn’t hurt. He’s become the most complete catcher in the American League, hitting .303 with 18 homers and 72 RBI entering Saturday’s game, despite having caught in 32 of the team’s previous 33 games. (Tigers’ record since: 81-59.) MAY 7, at TORONTO (9-0 win) —Does this one really need explaining? Ace Justin Verlander threw his second career nohitter, and announced to the world the launch of his Cy Young campaign. At this point in the season — and for the next two months afterward — you could argue that JV was not only the team MVP (the Tigers seemed to get their confidence from every trip he made to the mound) but possibly the league’s, as well. His 15-3 record after Tigers losses made him the ultimate stopper, and this was the second of those skid-stopping wins. (Tigers’ record since: 67-44; Verlander’s record since: 19-2) MAY 29, vs. BOSTON (4-3 loss, 3-0 win)— Despite a couple of heartbreaking losses at Fenway two weeks earlier, it seemed like the season series with the AL East powerhouse was pretty lopsided, with the BoSox coming into the day having won all four. David Ortiz made it five straight with a ninth-inning, pinch-hit home run off Tigers closer Jose Valverde in the first game of the day’s doubleheader —

set up by the rainout the day before. It looked like no one was going to see the blacked-out rematch between Verlander and Boston ace Josh Beckett in the nightcap, either. When Fox Sports Detroit did get clearance to pick the game up, fans tuned in to a shutout win by the Tigers, capped by Valverde getting his revenge vs. Ortiz in the ninth. A huge confidence boost, should the two teams match up in the postseason. (Tigers’ record since: 57-36) JUNE 11, vs. SEATTLE (8-1 win) — So the Tigers beat an eventual last-place team, one that can’t score? So what? Well, the Tigers had been swept by the Mariners in Comerica a month earlier, starting their longest losing streak of the season. Not only did they get redemption for that, but the Tigers managed to pull into a first-place tie with the suddenly flagging Indians, occasioning a visit to the locker room by a the team’s jubilant owner, Mike Ilitch. Max Scherzer got his eighth win on the season but has gone 66 since then. (Tigers’ record since: 4833) JULY 31, vs. LOS ANGELES (3-2 win)— Verlander got another Cy Young showdown with the Angels’ Jered Weaver, and took a no-hitter as deep as the eighth inning for the third time on the season. Of course, the game would be remembered most for the home-run showmanship by Carlos Guillen that got under Weaver’s skin, but it was also the moment at which it became abundantly clear that — unlike Weaver — Verlander was going to let nothing distract him from the task at hand. JV may not have won the Cy Young this Sun-

day afternoon, but you could argue that Weaver went a long way toward losing it with his hotheaded implosion. (Tigers’ record since: 24-11) AUG. 21, vs. CLEVELAND (8-7 win) — The fear coming into the series was that Leyland had decided to push Verlander back a day, and pitch him on the road in Tampa. It didn’t help fans’ panic that the Indians had cut the Tigers’ divisional lead to 1.5 games coming into the series, either. With the Indians’ big trade acquisition, Ubaldo Jimenez, on the mound for the Sunday matinee, it looked like Cleveland could still steal the series finale, after losing the first two. Even after the Tigers blasted Jimenez for seven early runs, the ninth inning didn’t look good, when the Indians loaded the bases to threaten hanging the first blown save of the season on Valverde. Then Austin Jackson nailed Kosuke Fukudome at the plate trying to score the game-tying run on a shallow fly ball — perhaps the single biggest play of the season so far — and the rest is history. The Tigers have not lost to either of the two teams — Chicago and Cleveland — chasing them in the AL Central since. “That’s a play that ended the game, in a dramatic fashion, with the crowd and all the atmosphere and everything, so that’ll go down as a highlight play for the season,” Leyland said after the game. Play of the year, at this point. (Tigers’ record since: 15-4) AUG. 23, vs. TAMPA (2-1 win) — No one expected Verlander to lose the first game of the road trip, even against the red-hot Jeff Niemann, but no one expected Brad Penny to outpitch David Price in Game 2 of the four-game series, either.

The Tigers would go on to take three of four from the team that everyone insisted would be leading the AL Central, if roles were reversed. When they left Florida, there was a lot more doubt about which was the better team. (Tigers’ record since: 13-4) AUG. 30, vs. KANSAS CITY (2-1 win in 10 innings) — Yes, the Tigers brought in the Mariners’ hard-luck starter, Doug Fister, to solidify the rotation, insisting he was better than his record indicated, and he was a top-end starter, rather than just a fill-in for the No. 5 starter’s spot. No one expected this. No one. Fister took a perfect game into the seventh inning, then was helped out when another unlikely hero, Ramon Santiago with his “sneaky power,” saved the day in extra innings, with a walk-off home run. This might be the point at which the “good” season started to look “magical.” (Tigers’ record since: 9-1) SEPT. 3, vs. CHICAGO WHITE SOX (9-8 win)— Did I say magical? I believe I did. Down seven runs? Not a problem. The Tigers pasted together an 8-0 scoring run, highlighted by Ryan Raburn’s game-tying two-run homer in the ninth, followed by Miguel Cabrera’s walk-off home run two batters later. “Besides two years ago, in Game 163, that was probably the most fun I’ve had in a long time, just the way it ended, and the way it played out,” Raburn said after the game. “I was telling some of the guys, if you don’t get pumped up after that, there’s something wrong with you. Because that was just an unbelievable game right there.” (Tigers’ record since: 6-0)




% 0.9R P A s 4-60 Mo




SEPT. 7, at CLEVELAND (8-6 win) — Considering the fact that it should be unlawful for a guy named Shelley Duncan to rain on your ace’s Cy Young parade with a pair of home runs, Victor Martinez took care of the dilemma with one swing of the bat, bashing a first-pitch grand slam to take Verlander off the hook for the potential loss, instead putting him in line for win No. 22. “What a great win,” Verlander said after the game. “When he hit it, I said, ‘It’s that kind of year.’ ” It’s certainly looking like it. (Tigers’ record since: 2-0) Honorable mention dates April 12 and 13, vs. Texas — The Tigers took two out of three from the defending American League champions, winning 5-4 and 3-2, both in walk-off fashion. April 12 and 13, vs. Texas — The Tigers took two out of three from the defending American League champions, winning 5-4 and 3-2, both in walk-off fashion. July 30 trade for Doug Fister and David Pauley — Fister is 4-1 in seven starts with the Tigers, not only solidifying the rotation, but almost assuredly earning himself a spot in the postseason rotation. (Tigers record since: 27-12) Aug. 8 contract extensions — The Tigers lost their first two after owner Mike Ilitch gave GM Dave Dombrowski and Leyland contract extension, but 22-7 after that. So much for taking away the urgency this season. Aug. 15 trade for Delmon Young — The Tigers have gone 19-6 since acquiring the left fielder, who’s been in the lineup every game but one, hitting .297.

–– Matthew B. Mowery




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Page 6

Thursday, September 29, 2011

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“Taste of the Towns” at the City’s annual Fall Festival to showcase samples of food fare from various Southeast Oakland County restaurants. Many city events will also be held along with a Bonfire starting at 6:15 pm.

Page 7

The Oakland Press/JOSE JUAREZ

Thursday, September 29, 2011

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Page 8

Thursday, September 29, 2011

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Page 9

The Oakland Press/ JOSE JUAREZ

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Published Daily. Delivered Daily. Subscribe Today! 1-888-464-6860

Page 10

Thursday, September 29, 2011





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Strawberry Fields Loyalty Programs Dessert of the Month! Or as George sang about Savoy Truffle

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Page 11


Thursday, September 29, 2011

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

A G N O E H LD T A OPEN 7 DAYS A WEEK 9:30 AM - 6:00 PM Athena Gold also buys the following: Diamonds 1/4 carat and bigger, Rolex and Better Watches, Rare Coins and Collector Coins, GSA “CC” Silver Dollars, Sterling Silver Flatware and Serving Sets, Yellow Dental Gold (16K), 999 Silver Bars, Silver Eagles


10¢ = 25¢ = 50¢ = Dollars =

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Per Ounce

CANADIAN CLAD 1967 AND SOME 1968 7 X FACE SILVER DOLLAR KENNEDY CLAD 1878 - 1935 $20.00 HALF DOLLAR Each 1965 - 1970 $3.50 VF +

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26 X Face

US 25¢



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10k $

19.00 $28.00 Per Gram

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Detroit Tigers playoff preview section  

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Detroit Tigers playoff preview section  

oit Tigers playoff preview section