On the start of the day Thursday, the Tigers Magic Number to clinch a playoff berth was 2, which meant any combo of 2 Tigers wins and Indians losses would guarantee the Tigers the AL Central Championship and a place in the playoffs.
The Tigers were playing in Cali, which meant a 10:00 start, but this was a game I had to see as it was a possible clinching game. So I headed to bed for a late nap at 8 and set my alarm for 10. At ten I got up to watch the game. Midway through the game we found out that Cleveland had lost, dropping the Tigers magic number to 1. Meaning if the Tigers won their game they were in the playoffs!
So up we stayed, hoping to celebrate with champagne showers. However, the Tigers lost (breaking a 12-game winning streak). We went to bed late (1 am) and disappointed. But not too disappointed, because with 12 games left to play and a magic number of one a postseason for the Tigers was highly likely. In order to miss the playoffs, the Tigers would have had to lose every remaining game, with the Indians winning every remaining games.
Friday dawned a new day. In my mind it was crucial to clinch Friday. Saturday's game wasn't originally scheduled to be broadcast on TV. The four o'clock start put it in FOX's national window, which means nobody else can broadcast games then. Fox Sports Detroit bargained that the game needed to be shown in case we clinched. FOX granted them rights to show the game on FOX in local markets, Michigan and Toledo, which was exciting. Except that, although I'm a Michigan resident, my FOX station is out of Indiana... So I wouldn't be able to watch because the Indiana markets were getting a different game...
So Friday was important or I was going to be driving to GR to watch the game at an Applebee's... But Friday, my friend Holly and her bf Noe were coming to visit. They were aiming to arrive around 11:00pm Friday night. I was hoping not to have to awkwardly celebrate with them around, but I would deal with it. They ended up leaving late and getting lost, which meant there was hope for the Tigs to win before they arrived.
Then the lights went out. Literally, almost all of the lights at Oakland's stadium went out for 16 minutes and they had to delay the game. For awhile the game was tied 1-1. Dougie Fister was pitching awesome for the Tigers. We had lots of chances to score, but couldn't get the runs across.
Finally in I think the sixth, we managed to score a run on a Betemit triple! If we could hold on to the lead we'd be AL Central Champs! Later, Donnie Kelly hit a home run to give us an insurance run. We were ready to celebrate.
Dougie pitched through the eighth, then they put in Papa Grande. If you had been peeking into my window around 12:30 Saturday morning (creeper...) you would have seen a 23-year old woman clutching a giant stuffed monkey, pacing around her living room, quietly urging the Big Potato to do this thing. I was so nervous/excited!
After giving up a lead-off double, Papa Grande struck out the next batter. Then he got Hideki Matsuit to pop out to Inge. At this point my heart was pounding. I looked up at the TV and saw Jim Leyland doing that awkward pose where he sticks his hands into his pants. It's like putting your hands in your front or back pockets, but his baseball pants don't have pockets. So instead of looping his thumbs through his belt loops or something, he just sticks half his hand between his pants and jersey... it is very awkward, but at this tense moment it caused me to burst out laughing :) which broke the tension nicely.
After Inge through to first to get the last out of the game, the creeper peering in my window would have seen me silently cheering and trying not to jump up and down so as not to bother my downstairs neighbor who probably wasn't up that late... and would have seen a few tear slipping down my cheeks.
The Tigers rushed out on to the field in a fun celebration before heading into the clubhouse to douse each other in champagne. As the on-field celebration was winding down, my phone rang. It was Holly and Noe, they had arrived, with perfect timing, so that I could see the end of the game. With their arrival, I didn't get to watch much of the postgame celebration (we had it on, but I was trying to make polite conversation :)
Since I've been alive the Tigers have not won a division title, and they've never been Central Division champs, so this was a very exciting time! Plus making the playoff is always super exciting!!!! And very worth the wait!