DETROIT -- The Tigers weren't too concerned where they would be going after Wednesday's 5-4 win over the Indians. Whether it was New York or home to their own beds.
As they waited for the Rangers and Angels to finish, players got dressed, only a few were watching the televisions. When the Rangers' Mike Napoli hit a two-run homer in the ninth inning, there wasn't much reaction. The Tigers got on the bus to head to the airport, where they would fly to New York.
"We're playing good right now and that's all that we're worried about," starter Rick Porcello said. "It doesn't matter if we're in New York or at home, we just need to go out there and play good baseball and that's what we're going to do."
Jhonny Peralta hit a solo home run in the bottom of the eighth to give Detroit the winning margin and keep alive the Tigers' hope of home-field advantage in the American League Division Series.
In the end, it didn't mean much, but it was representative of a Tigers team that has never quit, pulling off one more rally for a win in the regular-season finale.
"Our offense has been doing it all year, coming from behind and scratching us out of holes," Porcello said. "It doesn't surprise me at all that that's how it came out. That's the way we've been playing and it's awesome. It's fun baseball."
The Tigers accomplished plenty of milestones along the way. Miguel Cabrera went 2-for-4 on Wednesday, winning the AL batting title at .344. Jose Valverde also finished off a perfect regular season with his 49th save in as many chances. The 49 saves tie a Major League record for Dominican players. Francisco Cordero posted 49 in 2004 with the Rangers.
"I'm so excited, to tie the record for the Dominican guys and for the Tigers and for all my family and friends here in Detroit," Valverde said. "I didn't do 50, but there's nothing I can do. Forty-nine is better than 35."
The Tigers trailed, 3-0, heading into the bottom of the fourth. A Victor Martinez single scored Delmon Young to cut the deficit to 3-1. In the fifth, Alex Avila scored Cabrera on a single and Peralta hit a sacrifice fly to tie the game.
They took the lead in the sixth when Wilson Betemit scored from third base on a wild pitch. Although Ryan Perry gave up the lead in the top of the eighth, Peralta sent the fans home happy with his eighth-inning blast.
It was Peralta's second home run in three games. He had just one in the previous 31 games. An All-Star, Peralta had struggled in September with a .256 batting average, but there is no better time for him to turn things around than now.
"There's a lot of guys here who can hit really good, and it's one of the best seasons that I had this year," Peralta said. "I feel like I hit pretty good this season. Now we go to the playoffs. Different story."
Different story indeed. In 2006, the Tigers backed into the AL Wild Card after losing a late division lead. They met the Yankees in the ALDS, and much to the surprise of everyone, came away with a 3-1 series win and eventually went on to the World Series.
The 2011 series begins on Friday night in New York, with the first pitch set for 8:37 p.m. ET.
"You're going to be in the postseason because they have good players, that's the bottom line," Porcello said of the Yankees. "If you make it anything more than that, then you're psyching yourself out. They're just like us. We're a good baseball team, they're a good baseball team and it's going to be a good series."
Porcello doesn't know if he will get a start in the series. Max Scherzer will get the nod in Game 3. If there is a Game 4, Porcello feels he would be ready.
Porcello hit 95 mph on the gun on Wednesday, a rarity for him. He said it had nothing to with having more rest. Rather, it was the strongest he has felt all season.
"It had to do with how I felt today and it was jumping out of my hand a little bit better than it has been," he said. "That was it. It wasn't anything in particular."
Porcello now has given up three earned runs or fewer in each of his last five starts and six of his last seven.
"He's been pitching well," Avila said. "He pitched well all season. Today it was like he had a little bit extra on his fastball, which was nice. But the thing is, he was also throwing hard with a lot of movement, mixing all his pitches."
Tigers manager Jim Leyland has praised his team all season for not getting too up or down. With the postseason finally here, the Tigers don't plan on letting the emotions get the best of them. But that doesn't mean they won't enjoy it.
"We're still in 2011. I don't see it as another season. Just another series, another game," Martinez said. "Obviously, it's a little more intense, but it's still a baseball game, so we still have to go out there and have fun and keep playing."
And based on the Tigers' run in 2006 and how the remaining postseason spots were filled on Wednesday night, anything can happen.
"This game is so weird," Leyland said. "That's why it's a great game, because you can't ever predict."
Chris Vannini is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.