Catchers Alex Avila and Brayan Pena
Nobody said it’d be easy. It wasn’t.
But the Tigers finally clinched the AL Central title last night in Minnesota, making it their third-consecutive crown. Every time the Tigers got hot this year, the Cleveland Indians did the same. They were like that annoying fly in your office that constantly buzzes around, but then disappears long enough for you to forget it’s there only to return a few minutes later.
As the Tigers sprayed each other with champagne and celebrated in the away locker room, they’d officially forgotten the buzzing fly that was the Indians.
The champagne-drenched players all wore shirts that read “WE OWN THE CENTRAL.” I don’t know the laws regarding statute of limitations, but three years worth of holding something has got to give you ownership, right? Even if the Tigers don’t technically own the AL Central, it’s theirs for the time being.
The clincher came at an opportune time, too, because the Tigers have a day off before traveling to Miami for their final three games of the regular season. As Max Sherzer said two nights ago, at least nobody will have to pitch hungover the next day.
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Despite all the cheers, champagne (general manager Dave Dombrowski explicitly said in a post-game interview that it was non-alcoholic) and tears, the Tigers still have some work to do. With an Oakland loss a few hours earlier on Wednesday, the tigers moved to just a game behind the A’s for home-field advantage in the ALDS.
So while Jim Leyland celebrates, he’ll have some decisions to make. Who do you play and who do you sit in this final series? Do you start resting the starting pitchers to setup the rotation? How much does home-field advantage mean to you?
Nobody knows those answers but Leyland. I do know, as I wrote yesterday, that potentially traveling to Oakland twice in a five-game series isn’t ideal. It seems like the Tigers have more of an incentive now to fight to the end and maybe try to lock up that home-field advantage. Maybe not though.
I don’t know. That’s why Jim’s the manager, and I’m not. Heck, maybe after being carried into the champagne-riddled foray last night by Tori Hunter, Leyland has a new prospective on life and the season.