Score more than the Yankees. Haw-haw. OK, having got that out of the way so you guys won't do it in the comments ...
So let's write the script right here, right now., Barring any incredible blow outs that do not stem from reality -- but are always possible, baseball being baseball and unpredictable -- how does the game look in a Detroit victory? Someone's got to be the hero and get their face in next year's crop of postseason ads. Who will it be?
1) Tigers starter Doug Fister pitches seven innings and earns the quality start. At the very least, Fister has to go six innings and Phil Coke has to have a scoreless seventh inning. (Jim Leyland has said he'd like to stick to three relievers in the game and Coke is one of them.) However, it would help the Tigers immensely if Fister could make it through seven innings and hand the ball to Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde to finish it off. Fister's going to give up some runs. As good as he's been this season, these are the Yankees and this is Yankee Stadium. Both teams have hit some home runs there this series. But if Fister can limit it to three or fewer, it's a great start.
2) The Tigers have to score five or six runs. Dan Dickerson said this yesterday, and I believe it to be true. You're probably not going to squeak by the Yankees, 2-1. Anything is possible, but that seems highly unlikely. So the batters simply have to do a better job than they did in Games 1 and 4. This is doubly an issue because Game 1's pitcher -- after the rain suspension -- was none other than Ivan Nova, tonight's starter. Ahead of the game, Jim Leyland said it made them a bit nervous that they hadn't faced Nova and didn't know what to expect. Well, they've seen him now, and only a few days ago. Detroit has to use that knowledge to score a couple of sets of runs tonight in order to come out victorious.
3) Piggybacking on point two, the Tigers score a couple of runs early. For one, to take the crowd out of it. That's always good. For two, the Yankees have a strong bullpen in innings seven through nine. They're not impossible to score on, obviously, but it's improbable. So getting a few runs early and having a lead heading into the final third of the game is imperative.
4) No one is asked to bunt in the first inning. Thanks.
5) Austin Jackson and Alex Avila finally add some "O" to their "D." The pair are a combined 1-for-24 in the series. Austin Jackson at least manages to get on base by walking and has a respectable .313 on-base percentage. Avila has struggled in that, too, and just doesn't look right. The Tigers simply cannot rely on Don Kelly and Ramon Santiago to carry them into the next round.
6) Defense. I know the Yankees can "hit 'em where they ain't" pretty good. But for some reason Jackson has looked out of position on a couple of different plays hit to center field that we've seen him make several times before. It's not all on Jackson, of course. All his teammates have to show up tonight in the field. But Jackson needs to make a highlight reel grab or two of his own to match Curtis Granderson.
7) Tigers get the bounces. The only thing scarier than a five-game series is a one-game series. A bad bounce or two and it's over. If there are going to be any bad bounces or balls hit just inside the line or any of that other stuff, let's hope it goes our way. Don't the baseball gods owe us for 2009? I think they do.
OK, so those are my keys to the game. What do you have to add?