Detroit Tigers not favorites in postseason anymore

By Rob Parker - Sports Columnist
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In honor of the late, great Joe Falls, it's a Fish Fry Friday.

The Tigers aren't the favorites to come out of the American League anymore.

It's a huge change since before the season when just about every MLB expert expected them to reach the World Series. And many of those same experts expected them not only to get there, but win the Fall Classic for the first time since 1984.

Enter Miguel Cabrera.

The slugger's injured hip is the reason most aren't as sure about the Tigers, who open up their American League Division Series tonight in Oakland against the A's. First pitch is 9:37 p.m.

Cabrera's injury has turned last year's AL MVP and Triple Crown winner into just a singles hitter. Miggy has just two extra base hits since August 26th. That's the part that has to concern Tigers' fans.

"He's not 100 percent," Tigers' manager Jim Leyland said to reporters. "He's been playing in a lot of pain. He's a real tough guy. I think if anybody knew the pain he's playing in, they probably would believe it."

To his credit, Cabrera hasn't complained. He has gone out and tried to play through it. Cabrera didn't play the final game of the season on Sunday in Miami. That, plus the four day layoff before the playoffs, Cabrera has had five straight days off.

"I'm feeling better," he said. "I'm ready to go.

"No time to think what happened in the past. We need to be positive and try to be ready to play."

And so must Tigers. They will take on the A's for the second year in a row. The difference this time is that the first two games will be in Oakland. Last year, they were in Detroit.

The Tigers won the best-of-five series in 2012 in five games. In fact, the Tigers have beaten the A's both times they have met them recently. In 2006, the Tigers swept them in the ALCS.

Still, it's Cabrera's health that makes the task a lot harder this time around.

Parker's Prediction: A's in five.

One Piston To Watch

It's funny. The Pistons added a couple of huge pieces to their team in the off-season --  Josh Smith by free agency and Brandon Jennings via a trade.

Still, the player most are excited about as this season is about to start at the end of the month is second-year center Andre Drummond.

"I'm excited to play with Andre Drummond," Smith said at Media Day. "He's young, athletic.

"Being able to have an added shot-blocker back there, behind, knowing the last line of defense isn't always you. You get excited about things like that."

Drummond is thrilled, too. He believes with all the added talent that Pistons will compete, unlike his rookie season. "I expect a of great things," he said.

The same is being said about Drummond, who recently turned 20.

"As long as he keeps getting better every year, he's going to be fine," guard Will Bynum said. "We have to let him develop at his own pace. If he keeps working, he's going to be fine."

That's why many expect the Pistons to get back to the postseason. Some have the Pistons finishing as high as a sixth seed in the East.

"We have expectations on ourselves," said new Pistons' coach Mo Cheeks.

Crowds Go Wild

Home crowds have been wild and loud in the MLB playoffs so far.

It's been incredible, in fact, to watch and listen on TV. It started in Pittsburgh's Wild Card Game on Tuesday. It was so loud and everybody seemed to have on black.

The next night in Cleveland, the Tribe's fans didn't disappoint. The same could be said about St. Louis' faithful on Thursday. And finally, Thursday night, the Braves' fans were totally off the hook. They had the chop going in full-force and they were chanting so loud, the loudest I could ever remember.

Plus, with Magic Johnson, one of the Dodgers' owners, in the stands, Braves' fans sounded like those in the old Boston Garden. "Beat L-A, Beat L-A" was heard at Turner Field.

The A's have a loud crowd. It will be interesting to see if they turn it up a notch sine the bar has been raised. And then on Monday, it will be the Tigers' fans chance at Comerica Park.

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