Paul Wezner, Senior Editor
The pitching came on when the team needed it to, but the fact is, this team was pitching well for the most part over the last month, and that wasn't turning into victories. Jim Leyland turned all the talk that the Tigers didn't belong and used it as motivation to get his team fired up. It was obvious that Leyland played that card with the club in one of his press conferences in New York, talking about how 'people said' his team wasn't a playoff team, but he knew they were. Who those people are, well I'm not sure, but it was obvious that the team took it to heart, and has been playing with a chip on their shoulder. Now the key will be to keep playing with that same intensity against whoever they face in the World Series.
Mark Anderson, Associate Editor, Minor Leagues
While the easy answer in the Tigers postseason turnaround is the sheer dominance of the pitching -- starters and relievers -- I think the true factor is the return of their confidence and swagger. When they were going good through May and June, the had a supreme confidence surrounding the entire team; almost a feeling of invincability. Whether it was due to lack of focus, untimely slumps, or other factors that led to this, Jim Leyland was able to snap them out of that funk in time to put a beating on the Yankees and A's. The Tigers look to have that supreme confidence back, a trait you will notice among teams on their way to championships. The Marlins had it a couple of years ago. The White Sox had it last year. The Tigers have it this year. They step on the field everyday feeling as though they absolutely will win that game; and that attitude adjustment has made all the difference in the world in the playoffs.
Jason Avery, Associate Editor, Amateur Baseball
In a word, it's been the pitching. The offense started to get heated up in the final weeks of the regular season, but it got overlooked somewhat with the poor pitching, and the loss of the division. However, the Tigers have gotten contributions from everyone in the lineup, and when you have the type of power the Tigers have in the bottom of the order, the opposing starter doesn't get any kind of a breather when facing the Tigers. Back to the pitching for a moment. Outside of Nate Robertson's start against New York, the starting pitching has been terrific. Justin Verlander has made two good starts, Jeremy Bonderman has been outstanding, Kenny Rogers has been superb, and Robertson himself threw five shutout innings in beating Barry Zito. The bullpen has also done it's job, having surrendered just four runs total in eight games, and the opposition is also hitting a whopping .234 against the pitching staff. The old adage of good pitching beating good hitting has been tried and true in postseasons of the past, and 2006 is no exception.
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