Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland must be smiling mighty wide right now, and not just because his team has gotten past the Oakland Athletics to advance to the MLB American League Championship Series.
What has to be very pleasing for Leyland is the way his team is able to win on the road in the playoffs. Much is said about getting home-field advantage but the Tigers seem to play around it. They took Game 5 from Oakland last year, on the road, under similar circumstances. They’ve usually played well under Leyland in the playoffs without having the home advantage. There’s a few exceptions, notably the 2006 World Series when they lost 4-1 despite being able to open the Series at home. They didn’t have the home advantage against the San Francisco Giants in last year’s Fall Classic, but it probably would not have mattered.
Coming into Thursday’s game, many of Leyland’s critics were arguing that if Leyland had done a better job of managing in September, the Tigers would have had a better record than the Athletics and would have played the all-important Game 5 in Detroit. Perhaps, but Leyland knows how to manage on the road in pressure situations. That’s why Tigers did it again at Oakland and why they should not be counted out against the Boston Red Sox.
It’s not easy to win in the playoffs at Fenway Park. But if anyone can do it, it’s Leyland and his Tigers.
Leyland can have Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander both pitch if the ACLS goes seven games. It doesn’t matter where they pitch since Scherzer and Verlander look unbeatable right now.