It's not secret that this week was a frustrating one for Tiger fans everywhere. After pitching so well all season long, their normally reliable setup man and closer were responsible for two late blown leads. The offense managed 19 runs over three games, but couldn't come up with a run when they needed it, stranding 33 runners over the course of the series.
But what's done is done. The Tigers are the wild card winners, and have the opportunity to make a run at the World Series for the first time since 1987.
Yet, it shouldn't be enough for the Tigers to just be happy they've gotten where they are. It's time to forget the last week, and focus on taking down the Yankees, the team that finished the season with the best record in all of baseball.
A task, that which may not be easy, is certainly within the capabilities of the Tigers.
The Tigers have managed just two wins against the Yankees this season, but the Tigers have quite a few advantages working in their favor.
For starters, the pressure is on the Yankees. The Tigers were the feel good story of '06, but if they get swept, it's because they were clearly overmatched against a team whose payroll was nearly triple the Tigers' this year.
The Yankees on the other hand have been feeling the pressure of not having won a World Series in six years. Alex Rodriguez had a disappointing year, and is feeling the heat from never coming up big in a game when the Yanks needed him.
Plus, the Yankees aren't indestructible. Randy Johnson (currently slated for game three) is still far from 100%, and might be an easy target for the Tigers to jump on early (despite the fact that he's been the most dominant lefty of the last quarter century).
Setup men Kyle Farnsworth and Scott Proctor have been far from unhittable, and the Yankees will need someone that can capably get the ball to Mariano Rivera. The entire team ERA has been rather pedestrian, just slightly better than the Cleveland Indians, leaving them in the middle of the pack in the American League.
Meanwhile, the Tigers' top four starters all posted ERA's under four for the season. The Yankees have just two that can make that claim.
This will be no easy match-up, no matter what stats you care to look at. When asked earlier in the year about the difference between the two payrolls, Leyland remarked, "You go to the clothing store with $500 and I go with $100, you should come out with better stuff. You get a cashmere, and I get one of those itchy tweed things.''
A bit crazy statement, but it makes the simple point, the Yankees are going into this with the upper hand. But the Tigers have a rabid fan base and 95 wins in the bank to prove they belong, and as the saying goes; that's why they play the games.