"We don't want to be satisfied," general manager Dave Dombrowski said after Detroit eliminated Oakland with a 6-0 victory Thursday night. "Now we're there. But we've been there before. Now we want that next step. We want eight more wins."
Verlander led the Tigers past the Athletics by throwing a four-hit shutout in a winner-take-all Game 5.
The Tigers signed slugging first baseman Prince Fielder in the offseason in an effort to win their first World Series since 1984. Detroit took the AL Central for the second straight year, but its offense hasn't necessarily lived up to expectations despite the presence of Fielder and Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera.
Instead, it's been the pitching - specifically from the starting rotation - that has lifted the Tigers lately. Verlander allowed a home run by Coco Crisp to open the division series and calmly shut out the A's after that, winning both his starts. For the series, Detroit starters went 2-1 with a 1.30 ERA against a strikeout-prone Oakland lineup.
Fister and the rest of Detroit's entire postseason rotation are righthanded, bringing Alex Rodriguez's role into immediate question for the Yankees.
The Tigers look healthier than they were in last year's ALCS, when catcher Alex Avila seemed worn down and outfielders Delmon Young and Magglio Ordonez were injured to varying degrees. Verlander's impact on the 2011 playoffs was limited too, since two of his starts were cut short by bad weather.
That hasn't been an issue so far this year.
On Friday, the remnants of Detroit's cigar and bubbly party from the previous night were still being cleaned up from the visiting clubhouse in Oakland. But the vanquished A's gave the Tigers high marks.
"Jim Leyland was a class act," Melvin said. "He came over to our dugout before celebrating with his team."