Kansas City, Mo. Jim Leyland is as excited as he was when he was 28 years old and managing Clinton to a first-place finish in the Midwest League.
Whether it's the major leagues or the minors, a young man or a graying veteran, there's nothing to compare with having your team in first place in a tight pennant race in September.
"It's the same gut-wrenching, holding your breath," the 61-year-old skipper of the Detroit Tigers said. "I don't think it will ever go away."
Sean Casey hit a two-run home run in the sixth for a 4-3 lead and the Tigers beat the Kansas City Royals, 7-3, on Friday night to take a 11â2-game lead over Minnesota in the AL Central.
"Anybody who says you don't get excited, that your heart doesn't beat a little faster in this situation, I would never believe that," Leyland said. "I just don't buy that. They talk about managers, they say look how calm he is. You try to keep your composure at all times. Sometimes you lose it."
The Twins lost 7-3 in Baltimore, and probably wish the Tigers did not have five games left with Kansas City.
Detroit improved to 12-1 this season against the Royals. After two more games in Kansas City, they finish the season at home with three against Toronto and three more with the Royals, who must win five of their last nine to avoid a third straight 100-loss season.
"We match up well against them, but they've been one of the best teams in the second half," Casey said. "They've been knocking off good teams. We're not taking them lightly at all. They're not the same Royals as they were early in the year."
It was the Royals' first game under bench coach Billy Doran. He took over for manager Buddy Bell, who underwent throat surgery on Friday.
"We've got nine games left, and hopefully we'll do much better the rest of the time than we did tonight," Doran said. "We just didn't play very well tonight."
Zack Greinke, 22, came out of the bullpen in the ninth to make his first appearance of the season. He was the 31st pitcher the Royals have used, a franchise record.