There’s an old Detroit Lion’s saying: “Restore the Roar.” I shouldn’t have to explain why the saying is old. Nonetheless, Detroit’s other feline-themed team could just as easily be the recipient of that fan-chant, that is, if Tigers roar. Five years might seem like a short stint away from the playoffs for non-Detroiters, but for locals, it seems like an eternity. Before 2006, the Tigers’ last appearance in the World Series was in 1984 under the command of skipper Sparky Anderson.
That ’84 Tigers team had a memorable 35-5 start and featured Willie Hernandez’ Cy Young Award/AL MVP. While there’s still plenty of time before the baseball world knows whether Justin Verlander will achieve both of those gems, there is very little time for the Tigers to make ground on the Texas Rangers, now down 2-1 after Tuesday’s home win at Comerica Park.
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While this year’s Tigers did not have such an outstanding start, they managed to finish 34-12 and close out their first AL Central division title, “restoring the roar” at least for the time being. Before that, the Tigers’ last division title came in 1987 while they were still a part of the AL East. Between 1987 and 2006, you can add up a whole lot of meowing on behalf of the Motor-City big cats, including one of baseball’s worst records (43-119 in 2003) and the NFL’s absolute worst (0-16, 2008).
Before tonight, it remained to be seen whether the Tigers’ big bats would come alive, but with solo-shots off the bats of Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez, Tiger fans have a bit more to roar about. Doug Fister, seemingly unbeatable in his new home ballpark, pitched 7.1 spotless innings, giving up two runs on seven hits. Contributions from a previously purring Austin Jackson and a solo home-run from Jhonny Peralta saved the Tigers from going down 3-0 in the ALCS.
There’s plenty of baseball to play, though. For the meantime, Detroit will take all the “roar” it can get.