Miguel Cabrera, Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Phil Coke, and company made quick work of the Yankees in the ALCS. The Tigers disposed of New York in a tidy, four game sweep on Thursday and now face a somewhat lengthy layoff until the start of the World Series next Wednesday.
On the National League side, the Giants and Cardinals were in action yesterday and will play again Sunday thanks to San Francisco living to fight another day with a 5-0 victory behind a strong outing from Barry Zito. A potential NLCS game 7 would be on Monday. Or the series could end tomorrow. Either way the winning team will have less down time until the Fall Classic starts and won’t have to recover from an extended break.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland is hoping to keep his team sharp during the off days in hopes of not having a repeat of the 2006 World Series happen this time around.
“We actually have our instructional league team coming to Detroit and we’re going to play a couple of actual games Sunday and Monday and have a workout Saturday, as well,” Leyland told [ESPN Radio's] “Mike and Mike.” “We’re going to have our pitchers throw to hitters and we’re going to have our hitters face live pitching. So hopefully we’ll be a little more prepared this time.”
In 2006 the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Tigers in five games to win the franchise’s eleventh championship. That year Detroit swept the Oakland A’s in the ALCS, with the series-clinching game played October 14. Game 1 of the World Series, which the Tigers lost 7-2, took place on the 21st.
Perhaps Leyland is on to something, atleast from an offensive standpoint. In the 2006 ALCS Detroit scored 22 runs in four games (5.5 avg). In the World Series they managed just 11 over five games (2.2 avg). Or maybe it’s a simple as St. Louis’ pitchers were better than Oakland’s.
The Detroit Tigers last won the World Series in 1984, but with the arrival of Prince Fielder from the Milwaukee Brewers and Justin Verlander coming off a Cy Young and MVP year in 2011 there were more than a few who placed the “World Series or bust” label on Jim Leyland’s crew in 2012. Well, they’ve made it. And Leyland wants favorable outcome.
The debate of whether extra days off (to give injured players a chance to recoup or better align the pitching rotation) or playing straight through (to keep momentum and players sharp) is better this time of year isn’t going away anytime soon. There may not be a right or wrong answer. But we know where Jim Leyland stands on the topic.
“I think you can get mentally rusty, too. You just had an emotional win like we had last night and you really got some adrenaline going. And then you sit around for five or six days, a week, that’s pretty tough. So I think it’s a combination of mental exhaustion as well as physical exhaustion and I think you lose that sharpness a little bit. We’re definitely trying something different this time around.”