On October 12, 1987, the Tigers lost 9-5 to the Minnesota Twins and were eliminated from the playoffs. The Tigers lost that series 4 games to 1 after a poor performance especially by the pitching staff. Fans went into the off-season disappointed but they did witness one of the greatest pennant races in the history of the game that year. They made up 3 1/2 games in the final 8 days of the season by winning 4 dramatic one run games against the division leading Blue Jays in the final 2 weekends. It was easy to rationalize that the team had nothing left for the playoffs after the highly emotional stretch drive. Plus, most of us envisioned more playoff opportunities in the near future.
Little did we know that the Tigers would go into an 18 year drought where they would fail to make the post-season. Not only that but, in most years, they would come nowhere close to contention. Indeed, they played some of the worst ball in the history of the sport. Many fans got to the point where they were so hopeless they questioned whether the team would ever win again. Finally, on September 24, 2006, nearly 19 years after their last playoff exit, they clinched a spot in post-season with a 11-4 victory over the Kansas City Royals.
Last night, the Tigers scored 10 runs in the first inning of a 15-4 rout of the Royals. Today, they followed up with a 9 run second inning and cruised to another easy victory. Craig Monroe was held hitless in yesterday's onslaught and made two outs in the first inning alone. Today, he led off the second inning with a double and then blasted a 3 run homer in his second at bat of the inning. They had 13 batters in the inning which included 4 singles, a double, 2 homers, 2 walks and an error. For the game, the Tigers had 11 hits including 3 by Monroe and 2 apiece by Ivan Rodriguez and Matt Stairs (who hit his first homer as a Tiger).
The recipient of all the run support was Justin Verlander who held the Royals to 2 runs on 6 hits in 5 innings of work. Verlander finished with 17 wins and a 3.63 ERA and will likely win the Rookie of the Year award. Jason Grilli, Jamie Walker, Zach Miner and Andrew Miller each pitched 1 inning to close out the victory.
The final out was recorded when Miller, who was 2 years old in 1987, struck out Angel Sanchez. And the long long awaited celebration has begun in Detroit.