Detroit Tigers: Keys to Victory Against the New York Yankees

Sean RinehartContributor IIISeptember 29, 2011

Detroit Tigers: Keys to Victory Against the New York Yankees

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    It doesn't matter where you play.  All that matters is how you play. 

    That's good news for the Detroit Tigers and their fans, since they will open up the ALDS on the road against New York on Friday night.  While Detroit may have taken the season series against the Yankees with a 4-3 record, postseason baseball is a different animal.

    When the Yankees and Tigers met previously this season, the Tigers were still finding their identity.  This is a different Tigers team.  This team is ready for any challenge put in front of them. 

    Here are five keys to victory against the Yankees in the ALDS.

5. Pitching

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    I've never been a fan of looking at season stats.  No team plays the same in April as they do in September.  Because of that, the numbers of the last 30 days do not lie:

    2.20 ERA and 193.9 innings pitched.  These are the numbers for the Tigers' starters and relief pitchers over the last 30 days.

    All of the Tigers' pitchers have found another gear this September.  Benoit and Albuquerque haven't given up a run in 16.1 combined innings.  Valverde has a 0.64 ERA.  Fister is boasting a 0.65 in over 40 innings. 

    This team is ready to lean heavily on a staff that is ready and willing to send them deep into the playoffs.

4. Outfield

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    While the outfield hasn't provided much offensive firepower over much of the season, the last 30 days have been a different story.

    Ordonez is hitting .404, Jackson is hitting .272 and Young is hitting a respectable .262.  All-everywhere player Don Kelly is hitting a potent .304.

    This is a critical part of the Tigers' offense this postseason. These guys need to produce, and they will in a big way.  Jackson has been a question mark in the no. 1 spot this season, but a chance at postseason glory will help him get out of his current strike-out funk.  

    This is a team on a mission. These guys are ready to give the Tigers some big at-bats all over their lineup. 

3. Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello

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    Let's face it, most people are not too worried about Verlander and Fister doing their parts in Games 1 and 2 of the ALDS.  The true question is which Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello will show up for Games 3 and 4?

    They have both shown signs of dominance over the course of this long season.  At the same time, they have both been exposed and lit up at times as well. 

    In order to win the ALDS, at least one of these pitchers has to come up big.  They have a combined 3.89 ERA in the month of September over a combined 70 innings. 

    This is the opportunity they have both been waiting for.  While they are both relatively young, they have the ability to pitch lights-out baseball when they are focused and confident.

    Look for both of them to turn in great pitching performances in the ALDS. 

2. Third Base and Second Base

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    Brandon Inge, Wilson Betemit, Don Kelly, Ryan Raburn and Ramon Santiago. 

    We will probably see all of these players at their respective positions at some point during the ALDS.  These five players will truly make the difference during the series with the New York Yankees.

    In the month of September, Brandon Inge has a .306 batting average.  What? We all know what Inge can do defensively, but if he continues with these numbers, only good things will happen this series.  Betemit is going to get his chances, and he has been clutch lately since coming back from an injury.

    At second base, Ryan Raburn has a .358 batting average in September, while Santiago is hitting .288.  Both of these averages are a vast improvement over both of these players' histories.  With Carlos Guillen possibly out until the ALCS, the Tigers will need these two players to continue their strong Septembers into the postseason. 

1. Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez

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    Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez just finished monster seasons.  They aren't done yet.

    This is why Martinez was brought to Detroit.  He has given Cabrera protection, while providing a huge offensive boost over the entire regular season.  They are hitting a combined .383, and knocked in a combined 48 RBI over the last 30 days.

    These two players provide a tandem of hitters that no pitcher wants to face right now.  Not only do they present a challenge at the plate, but they also provide an aspect of leadership that this team has been craving for a long time.

    The Tigers are going to ride these two all the way through the ALDS.