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Tigers advance to WS, await opponent

The World Series is just around the corner, and the Detroit Tigers are ready to complete the biggest turnaround in recent memory.

After dropping the first game of the American League Division Series against the New York Yankees, the Tigers have won seven games in a row to coast into the Series, following a sweep of the Oakland Athletics.

The boys from Detroit will take on either the New York Mets or the St. Louis Cardinals for the title. At press time, the series was tied 2-2.

The Mets are hoping to make it to the Big Show on the arm of old-timer Tom Glavine. Glavine is the only reliable starter in the banged up rotation, with Pedro Martinez and Orlando Hernandez unavailable due to injury.

There are huge question marks with Oliver Perez (who was designated to the minors by the Pirates, of all teams, before being sent to New York), Steve Trachsel (whose October ERA is 14.54), John Maine (whom I’ve never heard of) and whoever else Mets’ skipper Willie Randolph decides to throw out there.

Even if the Mets make it to the World Series, they’ll be hard-pressed to match the starting pitchers of Detroit, who are 5-1 with a 2.70 ERA in the playoffs.

The Cardinals have a much more secure pitching rotation, but so far in the postseason they have been carried by clutch hitting from Scott Spiezio. Spiezio had go-ahead RBIs in both Cardinal wins in the League Championship Series.

Although he has stepped up, he is still playing second fiddle to first baseman Albert Pujols, the defending MVP. Pujols is batting .310 with six runs scored and three runs batted in so far in the playoffs. The pitching staff for St. Louis has held its own, posting a 3.17 ERA in the postseason.

The Tigers swept the Athletics in dominant fashion. The only game that the A’s were even able to keep close was the fourth. After falling behind 3-0, the Tigers bounced back to tie the game.

Oakland manager Ken Macha brought in his closer, Huston Street, with one out in the seventh to keep the lead. Street, the defending American League Rookie of the Year, had another strong season with 37 saves. However, he is a closer, and certainly not accustomed to pitching more than an inning or two. He was able to get a double play groundball to end the seventh, followed by a hitless eighth.

As Street came back out to pitch the final inning, the entire city of Detroit had one thing on its mind: walk-off. With two outs in the ninth, he allowed two base hits from Craig Monroe and Placido Polanco. Magglio Ordonez stepped up to the plate and smashed a fastball into the left field seats to end the game.

The scene in Motown was one of pure elation, the kind that Tigers fans have been waiting for since 1984. Players showered each other with champagne while trying on their new “Tigers – 2006 American League Champions” shirts and hats.

Coach Jim Leyland already has a championship ring from the 1997 Florida Marlins, and is hoping to get another one with Detroit. He is awaiting the outcome of the St. Louis/New York series, but he knows that his Tigers will be the favorite regardless.

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