Five Best Moments at Comerica Park (VIDEOS)

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#3: October 7, 2006: Tigers win first playoff series since 1984

The year 2006 was magical for fans who had suffered through years of futility and 119 losses just three seasons earlier. New manager Jim Leyland took the reigns of a young Tigers’ team who seemed to have the looks of being better but had the misfortune of playing in a division with the reining World Series champion Chicago White Sox.

The Tigers overtook the White Sox in July and seemed on their way to their first ever AL Central title, but utterly collapsed after clinching their first playoff spot in 19 years in Kansas City one week before the end of the regular season. Those last-place Royals swept the Tigers at Comerica Park and dropped them to a wild-card.

Many fans wrote them off. They had peaked too early. They had also seemingly made their road through the AL playoffs tougher by getting the New York Yankees in the first round. Great year, Tigers. Maybe next year.

Not so fast.

The Yankees looked unstoppable and were absolutely loaded with superstars. The Tigers predictably lost the franchise’s first playoff game since 1987 in Game 1 at Yankee Stadium. But Verlander and Joel Zumaya kept New York’s bats in check in Game 2 to squeak out a 4-3 win and come back to Detroit with a split.

All the Tigers had to do was hold serve at home and they’d win the series. In the third game, Kenny Rogers absolutely dominated the Yankees and the energy of the first home playoff game in Detroit in nearly 20 years helped propel the Tigers to a blowout, 6-0 shutout.

Game 4 was another laugher as the Tigers piled up a big lead 8-0 before coasting to an 8-3 victory. The celebration was something special. The players stayed on the field and saluted the long-suffering fans, spraying champagne, partying and slapping high fives. It was a release for players and fans that the Detroit Tigers franchise was back.

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