Tigers feeling good, but series lead isn't safe

Detroit Tigers Don Kelly is congratulated by teammate Alex Avila after scoring on a wild pitch by...

Detroit Tigers Don Kelly is congratulated by teammate Alex Avila after scoring on a wild pitch by Oakland Athletics pitcher Ryan Cook during the eighth inning of Game 2 in their MLB ALDS playoff baseball series in Detroit, Michigan October 7, 2012. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

MORRIS DALLA COSTA, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:14 PM ET

The Detroit Tigers are on the brink of winning the American League Division Series.

They are also in danger of losing the ALDS.

That's the way the Tigers operate -- enough talent to win, not enough for any lead to be safe.

The Tigers are in Oakland to take on the A's with a 2-0 lead in their best-of-five series. The final three games, if all are needed, will be in Oakland.

Most would consider a 2-0 advantage to be relatively safe but this 2-0 lead was not earned easily. In truth, it could easily have been 2-0 the other way, or at the least tied.

The Tigers better not look at a 2-0 lead as secure. They need to end this series as quickly as possible because this year's Tigers are capable of turning a two-game winning streak into a three-game losing streak in the blink of an eye.

"Why are we talking about the regular season?" said Tigers triple-crown winner Miguel Cabrera after the second win. "That was the regular season. We are in the playoffs and winning the series. Why talk about what happened before?"

It's understandable that the Tigers would like to gloss over a forgettable regular season. The highly favoured Tigers struggled to win a weak Central Division.

While Cabrera and many Tigers don't want to revisit the regular season, the problems they had then haven't miraculously disappeared. They are still there and can resurface at any time.

In fact, they resurfaced at times during the first two games against Oakland and the Tigers were able to overcome them.

If the Tigers' pitching holds up, no team in the American League can touch them. Justin Verlander, Doug Fister and Max Scherzer give them three solid starters.

But while manager Jim Leyland insists he's comfortable with his bullpen, particularly setup man Joaquin Benoit and closer Jose Valverde, they are highly flammable.

The Tigers defence gave up the second most unearned runs in the AL and those are balls they can get to. The range of many of their infielders is limited.

Offensively, they have Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Austin Jackson, all of whom put up great numbers, but when the Tigers get a chance to score, the pressure on the three of them to produce is enormous because the supporting cast is inconsistent.

In the first two games, the Tigers left the bases loaded twice without scoring and failed to come up with a big hit on a number of occasions.

They survived because center-fielder Coco Crisp handed them Game 2 with a muffed attempt at an unnecessary basket catch.

Things have fallen on the right side of the ledger for the Tigers. They got a draw against one of the weaker teams in the playoffs and played their first two games at home, with their top two pitchers available. One of the games was played at noon, the equivalent of 9 a.m. on the west coast.

They feel good right now because everything is going their way. Even the most critical of Leyland's critics are reduced to playing the "yeah-it-worked-out-but-it shouldn't-have" card. The Tigers are having fun, enjoying the post-season atmosphere.

They aren't winning by "blistering" the A's, as Leyland said. They are winning because of wild pitches, dropped balls and good pitching.

It's a far different atmosphere in the other clubhouse.

The A's, especially some of their key players, are angry, complaining and short-tempered. They are not having fun.

"We're one game away from the American League championship (series)," Cabrera said. "That's all that matters."

So far, that's enough to overlook how the Tigers got where they are.

All the more reason for the Tigers to get it over with as soon as possible before the worm turns.


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