Polanco named MVP

Second baseman hit .529 against Athletics

Lyons fired by Fox

ALCS notebook

Baseball playoffs

October 15, 2006|By Dan Connolly | Dan Connolly,SUN REPORTER

DETROIT -- When the Detroit Tigers' Placido Polanco separated his shoulder in mid-August, the sporting world barely took notice. He was a role player, after all, a smooth-hitting, good-fielding second baseman who rarely made headlines.

He also was Detroit's glue, and the Tigers struggled through their worst month of the season without him. Polanco returned at the end of September and then excelled in the American League Championship Series, hitting .529 with two RBIs in four games to win the ALCS Most Valuable Player Award.

"This, by far, is the best moment of my career," Polanco said.

It could have been a season achievement award as far as his teammates were concerned.

"I'd say the middle of our infield, Carlos [Guillen] and Placido, have made this team go all season," closer Todd Jones said. "Only baseball people see how valuable he is. Hopefully being MVP of the ALCS gives him some credit."

Polanco singled three times in yesterday's Game 4, which the Tigers won, 6-3. He scored on Magglio Ordonez's game-winning, three-run homer in the ninth.

"He couldn't have hit it at a better moment," Polanco said. "I felt very, very happy for Magglio."

In turn, the Tigers were elated for Polanco, their unsung leader.

"He is a guy that has been able to battle and go. And no matter what the situation is, he is going to battle and come through," center fielder Curtis Granderson said. "He gives you 100 percent, that's what he has done all year and that's what he did in this series."

Sticking with Jones

Tigers manager Jim Leyland said Jones has been exactly what the club expected when he was signed last offseason. Jones' work hasn't always been pretty, but it's been effective. He saved 37 games during the regular season and three already in the postseason. Although Jones was shaky at times (a 5.82 ERA pre-All-Star break) Leyland said he never considered replacing him.

Lyons fired

Fox Sports announced before Game 4 that it had fired analyst Steve Lyons for inappropriate comments and had replaced him in the ALCS with Los Angeles Angels announcer Jose Mota, son of former big leaguer Manny Mota.

Lyons joked after Fox's Lou Piniella spoke in Spanish - "hablaing Espanol" as Lyons put it - that "I don't understand him, and I don't want to sit too close to him now." Lyons also allegedly made a joke that could be construed as racially stereotypical.

Around the horn

Tigers reliever Joel Zumaya (wrist) was not available yesterday. The Tigers entered yesterday as the first team to have won five straight playoff games by three runs or more. They padded that record to six after yesterday.

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

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