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Tigers thrilled to celebrate at home for a change

Tigers thrilled to celebrate at home for a change

Tigers thrilled to celebrate at home for a change
DETROIT -- Fifteen outs to go and the Tigers owned a six-run lead. They were on the verge of sweeping the Yankees in the American League Championship Series. However, not a soul in Comerica Park let up.

Not the players, as they battled to finish off the complete unraveling of the Yankees. And certainly not the fans, who continued screaming for the final five innings, knowing what would be the ultimate result. Even those lined up four-deep behind the center-field gate outside of Comerica Park never stopped fighting for a glimpse of the action.

When left-handed reliever Phil Coke forced Jayson Nix to pop out to an eagerly awaiting Prince Fielder at first base, sealing an 8-1 victory on Thursday, chaos ensued. The crowd went went nuts as Coke attempted to spike his glove through the ground, and the players sprinted onto the field to celebrate reaching the promised land.

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The 2012 Detroit Tigers are heading to the World Series.

ALCS

"This is the best," said Max Scherzer, taking a quick break from dousing his teammates in champagne. "Today you could actually see the energy from the first inning on. Comerica Park has never been like that and to be able to pitch in an atmosphere like that is just unbelievable."

To make the moment that much better, it was the first time the team experienced the thrill at home in the past two years, despite clinching four previous times. First, it was the American League Central title in 2011, which happened in Oakland. Then it was last year's AL Division Series in New York. Then the AL Central this year in Kansas City, and the ALDS in Oakland again.

The Tigers didn't even have the fortune of enjoying Miguel Cabrera polishing off the first Triple Crown in 45 years in the confines of their own ballpark.

So the scene was unlike any other since at least 2006 -- when Magglio Ordonez's walk-off home run in the ALCS sent Detroit to the Fall Classic.

"I was tired of doing it on the road," outfielder Quintin Berry said. "You don't get the same feeling as you do when you're at your own home park in front of your home fans. So to do it here, it's special."

"It's great to be able to celebrate with the fans," catcher Alex Avila agreed. "They deserve it. They deserve to party like we do."

And party, the Tigers did.

They sprayed champagne, smoked cigars and even poured buckets of water on each other. It was everything you'd expect a World Series team to do after a long and often stressful season.

For many, the best part was just having their families around to celebrate it with them.

Prince Fielder, for one, had his two children with him.

"It's awesome," Fielder said. "That's the main reason that I want to win, is to make sure they're happy and they can be apart of it, man. Because when I was growing up here, the Tigers weren't winning much. I'm just glad I get to give them new, different kind of memories."

Thanks to Fielder and the rest of the organization, the entire city will get to experience different memories come the start of the World Series on Wednesday.

And, of course, it's also thanks to an 83-year-old owner in Mike Ilitch, who proved his dedication to winning in the offseason when he signed Fielder to a nine-year, $214 million contract.

"It's a great thrill. My fans -- 3 million -- you pump my players up," said Ilitch on the field after the game. "I've got a great bunch. We don't have one hot dog in the bunch. They're all great guys. They're humble. They're down to earth. They appreciate the fans to no end. I couldn't be more happy with the Red Wings and the Tigers, but the Tigers are something special."

And if they continue to be special, Thursday might not be the last time the Tigers are partying at home.

Anthony Odoardi is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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