Leyland proud of season, wants to accomplish more

Leyland proud of season, wants to accomplish more

Leyland proud of season, wants to accomplish more
DETROIT -- The Tigers are back in the postseason for the second year in a row and manager Jim Leyland considers it unfinished business.

Last year, the Tigers lasted until Game 6 of the American League Championship Series when they were ousted by Texas. This year, they open their AL Division Series against the A's on Saturday at 6 p.m. ET in Comerica Park.

A's vs. Tigers
Every year is different and the Tigers are trying once again to win their first World Series since 1984.

"Well, I think it's been a little different type year, obviously," said Leyland comparing the fact the Tigers won the AL Central by 15 games in 2011 and just three this season. "Last year, we had a great run at the end, and we had a pretty good run at the end this year. Last year, it was decided pretty early. This year, it hasn't been. So we've had a little less time, really, to prepare for all the stuff you have to prepare for the postseason.

"But basically we're here now. So it's pretty much the same. It's a good feeling to get there, and hopefully we'll be able to advance."

This is the first time the Tigers have been in the postseason in consecutive years since 1934-35. They lost the 1934 World Series in seven games to the Cardinals and defeated the Cubs in six games a year later. Inclusive of this season, in the last 75 years, the Tigers have been to the playoffs just nine times.

They have won the World Series only four times in team history, adding a seven-game victory over the Cubs in 1945, another seven-game win over the Cardinals in 1968 and their five-game shellacking of the Padres in '84.

So Leyland is well aware of how special this particular mini run has been.

"We're real proud of that," Leyland said. "I don't really make a big deal about too much. But it's kind of weird really that that happened in '34, '35. It's kind of weird that our Triple Crown winner [Miguel Cabrera] was the first one in 45 years. A lot of things have happened this year in baseball that have been pretty interesting. And certainly we're proud of that fact that it's the first time it's been done.

"But that won't mean anything tomorrow when the umpire says, 'Play ball.' That will be a nice memory for somebody and it's already been a nice column. People have talked about it. We appreciate it. I think people have acknowledged us and we certainly appreciate that acknowledgment. But this is a whole new season."

And in this whole new season, the Tigers even have a little bit of history against the Oakland A's. They've played the A's twice in the playoffs since the format expanded for the first time to four teams in 1969. In 1972, they lost to them in the ALCS when the series went the max in what was then a best-of-five set. That began Oakland's run of three consecutive World Series titles. In 2006, the Tigers swept the A's in a four games on the way to losing to the Cardinals in a five-game World Series.

That was the last time the A's have been to the playoffs and the last of the 10 times the Tigers have been to the World Series. This year, the Tigers won the season series, 4-3, over the A's, including two of three at Comerica Park on Sept. 18-20. And now the A's present themselves as the viable opposition again.

"They've been a great story," Leyland said about a team that trailed the Rangers by five games with nine to play and beat them on the final day of the season to win the AL West. "I think it's been an unbelievable year for baseball, and the Oakland A's are part of the story. They've been absolutely unbelievable. I watched them the other day, their game against Texas. We saw them not too long ago. We don't know a lot about them. We saw them really early and real late.

"It's a very, very good team. And they're enjoying it. They're playing loose. They're having fun. Very impressive. And [manager] Bob Melvin has just done an unbelievable job. So when you get to this point, you're going to play a good team. You can bank on that. In fact, at the end of the season, you can bank they're all good teams. This is a real good team that's playing good."

Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow@boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.