Magglio Ordonez, who had already homered earlier in the game, took the 1-0 pitch down in the zone, and with a hard upwward swing, sent it high into the Detroit sky. As fans watched the ball fly, Ordonez just stood at the plate, watching his blast as it landed in the left field stands.
The Tiger dugout sprinted toward the plate to meet the game 4 hero; Craig Monroe pumped his fist as he rounded third; Placido Polanco, the ALCS MVP, jumped and threw his arms in the air in joy; and the nearly 43,000 fans cheered and waved their towels in the air, as they got to see the Tigers win the American League for the first time since Gibby and Tram were taking the field at Michigan and Trumbull.
The game certainly had plenty of heroes.
Polanco, who had always hit well against the A's, took home the ALCS MVP trophy, hitting .529 for the series, while stepping into the three hole with Sean Casey out of the lineup with a pulled calf muscle. Polanco also helped turn seven double plays over the course of the series, helping keep Tiger pitching out of trouble, and the A's off the scoreboard.
There's Curtis Granderson, who despite being the team's leadoff hitter, has led the team in slugging through the eight playoff games. And on top of that, his patience at the plate can't be overlooked, taking three walks in game three on Friday afternoon when the Tigers needed baserunners, or his hustle play in the fifth inning on Saturday, when a softly punched ball into right center was turned into a double when Milton Bradley jogged to pick the ball up.
And who can overlook Kenny Rogers, who has notoriously been awful in the postseason, but instead has put together two of the most impressive outings of the '06 postseason, not allowing a run over 15 innings, and walking off the mound to standing ovations both times.
Production came from even afterthought players, like Alexis Gomez and his four RBI performance in game two, despite spending a good portion of the season in AAA Toledo and two years ago being placed on waivers by the Kansas City Royals.
And while he never made a single play on the field, got a single hit, or made a single pitch, enormous credit has to go to manager Jim Leyland, who spent an entire season instilling the idea in his player's minds that they could win on the biggest stage, and go head-to-head with the best in baseball.
But for all the celebrating that has gone on at Comerica Park, the Tigers job isn't done yet. If history has taught us anything, it's that you never know when you'll be back, and to take advantage of every opportunity you get. The '84 Tigers appeared ready to put together a dynasty; instead the group never made it back to the World Series, and made just one other playoff appearance. Last season's world champions, the Chicago White Sox, found themselves playing for nothing but pride in the final week of the regular season.
Saturday night was for celebrating, but on Sunday, it's time to prepare. The Tigers job isn't done yet.