Friday, October 7, 2011

The Tigers Advance

Mitch Albom on the Tigers beating the Yankees to take the Division series win.

October ain’t over.

It takes a lot to stare down Yankee Stadium, but the Tigers just did it. It takes a lot to knock out CC Sabathia twice in a week, but the Tigers just did it. Doug Fister — not even with the team in late July — just did it. Delmon Young, who arrived even later than Fister, just did it. Don Kelly, who has seen more baseball stops than a Louisville Slugger shipping container, just did it.

From top to bottom, on a dry, cool New York night, the guys from Detroit just did it — without their certain Cy Young winner Justin Verlander ever taking off his jacket. They are moving on to Texas to play for the American League pennant, leaving behind the bewildered New York Yankees, the team with the league’s best record, the team that racked up 10 runs the previous game, the team that this morning is looking at its game plan, scratching its head and saying, “Why didn’t that work?”

It didn’t work because you can’t plan a baseball game; you just have to play it. While the Yankees had a strategy of “hold ’em down until we get to our best relief pitchers,” the Tigers came out and, well, pitched and hit and ran and fielded. That’s not easy to do on an elimination night — not overthink things. But with the calm, easy confidence of their white-haired manager, Jim Leyland, who picked up a new suit earlier in the day — he called it “a humdinger” — they just did it.

Tigers 3, Yankees 2.

Humdinger, indeed.

Next stop, Texas. The first game is Saturday in Arlington. Go get ’em, Tigers.