It will be hard to top a divisional round in which every series went to a decisive Game 5, but the American League Championship Series can do just that.
Detroit will face the winner of a heated battle between the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles. In the first four games of the series, there have already been three one-run games and two decided in the 12th inning or later.
Here is the schedule for the championship series based on each team winning Game 5.
If the Yankees win in the ALDS, they will have home-field advantage and the series will look like this (via MLB.com):
|1||Saturday||Oct. 13||TBS||New York|
|2||Sunday||Oct. 14||TBS||New York|
|6||Saturday||Oct. 20||TBS||New York|
|7||Sunday||Oct. 21||TBS||New York|
However, this is how the ALCS shapes up if the Orioles defeat the Yankees. The dates are the same, but locations are different.
There is so much talent on the Tigers' roster that it was a wonder why they needed a late run to squeak into the playoffs.
Miguel Cabrera won the first Triple Crown since 1967 and leads a formidable lineup that also features Prince Fielder and Austin Jackson.
Verlander also is arguably the best pitcher remaining in the postseason and can be counted on a win at any time.
The Tigers struggled to close out against the Athletics, but few teams have been playing better over the past few weeks and they will be a tough team to beat.
The Orioles have not been in the playoffs since 1997 when they lost in the ALCS to the Cleveland Indians. They were not projected to come this far this season, but they are not going anywhere now that they are here.
Still, it is not just magic that has brought the team here. The Orioles hit 214 home runs as a team, second-most in the majors. They also had a top-10 team ERA in August and September, despite concerns over the rotation.
Behind Buck Showalter, the team plays hard and never feels like a lead is insurmountable. This is an important trait as they advance deeper in the playoffs.
New York Yankees
No team has more experience in this situation than the Yankees, who have been in the playoffs in 17 of the last 18 years. However, that has not cooled the nerves of some of the team's best hitters.
Alex Rodriguez has only two hits in 16 at-bats, while Robinson Cano (2-of-18) and Curtis Granderson (1-of-16) have been just as bad.
The Yankees were one of only two teams to score more than 800 runs this season, but that does not matter once the playoffs begin. These key players need to step up, or else the team will miss out on a pennant once again.