The Detroit Tigers won their fourth consecutive American League Central division title with a 3-0 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Sept. 28.
Detroit Tigers Win American League Central Title
“The Tigers still own the American League Central. It just took them a little longer to deliver the final installment.
“It wasn’t quick, and it wasn’t easy, but the Tigers have gone the easy route before and come up short. With 7 1/3 shutout innings by David Price and two RBIs from Ian Kinsler, the Tigers clinched their fourth consecutive division title by the slimmest of margins, taking a 3-0 win over the Twins on Sunday afternoon at Comerica Park.
“They’re back in the postseason with a chance at the World Series they’ve been pursuing for four years. They’ll take it.
“‘Battle-tested teams are always better,’ Kinsler said. ‘To be able to put up with those things and to overcome and we’ve overcome definitely makes us a tougher team. Now the goal’s just to prove it.’
“The Tigers’ 90th win of the season was one more than the (Kansas City) Royals, who held on to beat the (Chicago) White Sox in Chicago with their spot in the AL Wild Card Game sealed by game’s end.
“Detroit advances to the AL Division Series against (the) Baltimore (Orioles), which will host the opening two games Thursday and Friday. Game 3 of the ALDS will be at Comerica Park on Sunday, with Game 4, if necessary, on Monday, Oct. 6, in Detroit. Game 5, if necessary, would be back in Baltimore on Wednesday, /9/8.
“It’s the step expected from the Tigers all along. Make what you want about the long wait, but with the sense of urgency at its peak, the Tigers again delivered, thanks in large part to two players who weren’t around for the previous three division titles.
“All of those were clinched on the road. Twenty-seven years had passed since the Tigers clinched at home. That, too, came on the final day of the regular season, when another Tigers left-hander, Frank Tanana, won a division title in Detroit by shutting out the (Toronto) Blue Jays at Tiger Stadium.
“Price (15-12) allowed just four hits over 7 1/3 innings, with two walks and eight strikeouts. He retired the side in order in just two innings, and faced a runner in scoring position in the third, fourth and fifth innings, the latter two with less than two outs. Each time, however, he got a clutch strikeout.
“…”Kinsler’s 17th homer of the season was the Tigers’ first hit off Kyle Gibson, who made his first trip through the Tigers’ lineup allowing only a walk. A hanging breaking ball on a 1-0 pitch was one of the few mistakes Gibson (13-12) made all afternoon.
“‘I was lucky enough to get a hanger from him,’ Kinsler said. ‘He didn’t make a lot of mistakes today. To be able to capitalize was just big.’
“…For all the celebrating they’ve done the last few years, it could have been subdued. For all they’ve been through this year, it was not.
“‘I understand the fans were frustrated,’ Victor Martinez said, ‘but there was nobody more frustrated than ourselves. We know what kind of talent we have here. We really were frustrated, and you know what, I’m really proud of this group today. We stayed together, and here we are.'”
— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) September 28, 2014
MLB.com’s Tracy Ringolsby says the Tigers are happy they’re AL Central champs again, but know all too well there is more work to be done:
“Cigars were lit. Champagne was poured. Hugs were exchanged.
“It was just like every other baseball clubhouse at clinching time, with a bit less revelry.
“It’s not that the Tigers don’t appreciate what they have done.
“It’s just that these Tigers, even the new faces for this season, know there is a lot more to get done.
“This is the Tigers’ fourth consecutive AL Central title.
“None of the previous three, however, have resulted in a World Series championship.
“Eighteen other teams have celebrated World Series championships since the last time the Tigers did, back in 1984, when the celebration turned into a street riot outside of old Tiger Stadium. And of the 11 other clubs who haven’t won a World Series in the interim, the (Tampa Bay) Rays and (Colorado) Rockies weren’t even in existence the last time the Tigers were World Series champions.
“‘There’s no way to explain how important (a World Series is),’ said Tigers catcher Alex Avila. ‘You do your best (in the playoffs). That’s all you can control. We now have another opportunity to do our best and see what happens.’
“Miguel Cabrera, Avila, Victor Martinez, Justin Verlander, Rick Porcello, Max Scherzer, Phil Coke and Al Alburquerque all have been a part of the close-but-not-enough-close moments of the last three postseasons with the Tigers.
“Price, who was in the postseason four times with the Rays and got to the World Series once, only to lose to the Phillies in 2008, is among 15 current Tigers with postseason experience. Cabrera (with the [then-Florida] Marlins in 2003) and (Joba) Chamberlain (with the [New York] Yankees in 2009) are the only ones to be a part of a World Series champion.
“At the other extreme are Nathan, who has come up short with the (San Francisco) Giants in 2003, Minnesota in 2004, 2006 and 2009 and (the) Texas (Rangers) in 2012, and right fielder Torii Hunter, a part of the Tigers’ postseason team a year ago as well as the (Los Angeles) Angels in 2008 and 2009, and the Twins in in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2006.
“‘This is something to celebrate,’ Hunter said of clinching the division titles, ‘but it’s not like (2002 with the Twins). We went wild. This is more subdued. This team has so many guys who want so much more.'”
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Poch de la Rosa
Poch de la Rosa follows all major U.S. sports: NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and the NCAA. His favorite teams are the Colts, Braves, Pacers, Sharks and Irish, respectively.
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