DETROIT (AP) — The next few days may feel a bit familiar to Detroit manager Jim Leyland.
The Tigers will have to wait a while before starting the World Series. Detroit won the AL pennant Thursday, wrapping up a four-game sweep of the New York Yankees. Now the Tigers won't play again until next Wednesday, when they open on the road against the winner of the NL championship series between St. Louis and San Francisco.
In 2006, Leyland's Tigers swept Oakland in the ALCS, finishing that series Oct. 14. The World Series didn't start until Oct. 21, and Detroit lost to St. Louis in five games.
"I do think the lull between our playoff and the World Series did work against us in 2006," Leyland said recently. "Now, that's not to take anything away from the St. Louis Cardinals. But all of a sudden, our emotion went from so high to just a blah, looking at each other for six days of staring at each other with really no action. That's hard."
The Tigers have workouts planned at Comerica Park from Saturday through Monday. The big question now is how the layoff will affect Detroit's sterling starting rotation, which has a 1.02 ERA so far in the postseason.
The Tigers breezed past the Yankees, with the starters allowing only two runs in the series. Justin Verlander made three starts in the playoffs, allowing only two runs — in the first inning of his first start and the ninth inning of his most recent start.
If the trend continues, Detroit should be very tough to beat, especially with an offense that finally broke out for eight runs in Game 4 against the Yankees.
Verlander was a rookie in 2006, and the team didn't make the playoffs again until last year, when the Tigers lost in the ALCS. The ace right-hander can appreciate the journey a bit more now than in '06.
"It's different because that seemed like it was easier. We were ahead all year," Verlander said. "You have more of an appreciation of how hard it is to get here."
The Tigers needed to overtake the Chicago White Sox late in the season to win the AL Central for a second straight year. Once in the postseason, pitching has carried them — with the exception of a couple meltdowns by closer Jose Valverde.