By Ashley Dunkak
@AshleyDunkak

COMERICA PARK (CBS DETROIT) – Even as the Detroit Tigers celebrated winning the American League Central Division, they knew more baseball would be played. They knew what they all want most – a World Series – has yet to be realized.

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They also knew they needed to enjoy the moment.

“Priceless,” said outfielder J.D. Martinez, whom the Tigers picked up after the Houston Astros cut him in spring training. “It’s what you dream for. Everybody always wants to be in this situation. You always see it on TV, and you just want to do it, so I’m just happy to be here.

“Just awesome,” Martinez added. “I didn’t know what to expect, I didn’t know how people were going to react because I’ve never done it, so I’m sitting there, I’m like, ‘What do we do? Do we run in? Do we jump?’ I don’t know, so it’s awesome. If you would have told me last year that I would have been here … I would have told you, ‘You’re crazy,’ but God has a plan, and we don’t see it. He does. He led me all this way, so I’ve just got to give thanks to Him.”

Victor Martinez, who has been part of the organization for each of its four straight division titles, seemed to attribute a little extra meaning to this one because of the obstacles the team had to bull through on the way.

“It was a lot of ups and downs, and there’s no secret – this team has been built to win,” Martinez said. “All the four years I’ve been here in Detroit, I think this one was the toughest one, so we were just able to stay together as a team. It just feels great.”

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Starting pitcher Max Scherzer always said winning the division would not be easy, but he also consistently professed utmost confidence that the Tigers would come out on top. For the division race to come down to the final day of the regular season, however, might have surprised even Scherzer.

“It’s crazy,” Scherzer said. “Our division’s gotten so much better. Winning the American League Central, especially for a fourth time, was going to be so much harder this year, and they pushed us all the way to 162 for us to clinch this, and this is such a great feeling. Whenever you win your division – it’s an unbelievable feeling to go into the playoffs knowing you won your division.”

At some points this season, it looked like the Tigers – a World Series favorite since before the season began – could end up as a wild card or even miss the playoffs altogether. Instead, the team rebounded from back-to-back losses to the last-place Minnesota Twins and got a win when it absolutely had to have one.

“We didn’t break, and that was what we’ve done all year – we’ve bent a little bit … but we’ve never broken,” reliever Joba Chamberlain said. “It’s a tribute to this ball club.

“It’s just been fun,” Chamberlain added. “It’s been a great ride. Obviously this is the first step in a long way to go, and we know that, and we’re going to enjoy this one, it was a long, hard-fought battle, but a new season starts here in a few days.”

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Central Division Champions!!! #turndownforwhat

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The series between the Tigers and the Baltimore Orioles begins Thursday.