The Tigers kickoff the 2011 ALCS tonight against the Texas Rangers. While Detroit won six out of nine games against the Rangers this year, this matchup has the makings of a seven game series. Both teams have a goies od offense, both teams have good pitching. The key for the Tigers will be starting pitching. Detroit was able to shut down the powerful Yankees lineup with solid starting pitching, and they will need to do the same if they hope to advance to the World Series. Everyone expects Verlander to perform, but the Tigers will need Fister and Scherzer to pitch like they did against the Yankees. In addition to pitching, Detroit will need to see more offense from Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez. The 4-5 hitters led the Tigers offense all season long, but were quiet in the ALDS. It has already been announced that Delmon Young will be left off the roster (replaced by Danny Worth), so the Tigers will need to see some offense from other spots in the lineup. If the starting pitching is solid and Cabrera and Martinez come through, Detroit will be tough to beat.
Prediction: Tigers win in 6 games.
It’s been less than 48 hours since Jose Valverde struck out A-Rod to clinch the ALDS, and it has given me time to reflect on the past week. My heart rate and blood pressure are just now starting to return to normal levels. I (and probably every other Tigers fan) spent the entire series pouring over every pitch and every at-bat. As the stress mounted with every passing inning, I began to realize something strange about the Tigers first postseason series in five years: I wasn’t enjoying the experience. Ever since the final out in the 2006 World Series loss to the Cards, I have wanted nothing more than for the Tigers to return to October baseball. This year we finally made it. As the Tigers quickly pulled away from the Indians and White Sox in September, I longed for the season to end and the postseason to begin. Leading up to October I was like a child waiting for Christmas morning, and given the Tigers irregularity in making the playoffs, I vowed to take in as much as possible once the ALDS started. While I expected a Tigers triumph to invoke emotions of elation and excitement, I was surprised at what I was feeling at the end of Game 5: relief. I was emotionally and physically exhausted. I had invested so much in the series, that I didn’t have anything left following Thursday night’s victory. As the Tigers kick off the ALCS tonight against the Rangers, I expect nothing less than another stressful week of baseball.