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Said Key, "We're in first place, that's all I know. Certainly we're not out of it by any means."
On such sure footing, Toronto headed into Saturday's game. Detroit, on the other hand, sort of sauntered in. "Nobody here struts around, nobody's a superstar," said Gullickson. "We've got young players, plus veterans who have had good years and bad years, so they know how to keep on an even keel. This team is all about makeup. That's the secret."
The Tigers' most obvious asset is their power, and it especially stands out when measured against the Blue Jays' often punchless offense. "If pitchers have their stuff, sometimes they can get through our lineup pretty quick," says Candiotti. The fourth through ninth hitters in the Toronto lineup had a total of 163 RBIs, six fewer than Detroit's fourth-and fifth-place batters, Fielder (100) and Tettleton (69).
However, the bottom two thirds of Toronto's order flexed its muscle on Saturday, driving in six runs, including solo shots by Olerud and Maldonado and two run-scoring hits by Pat Borders. When Fielder tried to pump up Detroit with a drive to right in the fifth, Carter crashed into the nine-foot-high fence and snagged the ball, converting what would have been a three-run homer into a sacrifice fly. That was Fielder's lone RBI of the series.
But the long ball is what makes the Tigers so entertaining: Although Detroit used such pitchers as Gakeler, Scott Aldred (who was sent down to Triple A on Sunday), Paul Gibson and Jeff Kaiser (he made his Tiger debut on Sunday after being released by the Milwaukee Brewers organization)—who had a combined 5.77 ERA in 126⅓ innings—no Blue Jay lead was safe. Lou Whitaker's three-run blast in the sixth cut Toronto's lead to 6-5. The Tigers worked 11 walks, and only some stout relief by Bob MacDonald and Henke kept the Jays in first place. "This gets a lot of pressure off our backs," said Carter. "All those people talking about things that happened before."
Carter is one of the new Jays. Only nine from that '87 team are still with Toronto. The '91 club may be younger and less potent, but it has loads of speed and plenty of pitching. If Toronto can hold its lead while playing American League East also-rans over the next two weeks, then facing American League West teams in its final 23 games could be an advantage. While Detroit and the third-place Boston Red Sox meet five more times, neither will have a chance to pick up ground by beating the Jays. On the other hand, if Toronto stumbles, the schedule will work against the Jays, because they can't make up ground on the Tigers or Red Sox by playing them.
Last weekend was the first semblance of a stretch drive for most of the Jays, and they didn't seem daunted by the prospect of a close race. "This is exciting," Candiotti said before his start. "This is what I always envisioned it would be."
The Tigers, meanwhile, will continue to slug along. "There's no way in god's world I thought we'd even be playing .500," says Anderson. "The pressure's all on them."