Published October 19, 2012
Detroit, MI – The day may have changed, but the outcome was very much the same.
The Detroit Tigers' arms once again dominated the New York Yankees' bats in finishing off a four-game sweep of a one-sided American League Championship Series with an 8-1 victory Thursday at Comerica Park, sending the franchise into the World Series for the first time since 2006.
Max Scherzer didn't give up a hit until the sixth inning and combined with three relievers on a two-hitter as Detroit became the first team to sweep a postseason set from the Yankees since the Kansas City Royals took all three meetings with the Bronx Bombers in the 1980 ALCS.
Scherzer (1-0) yielded one run and just two hits while racking up 10 strikeouts over the first 5 1/3 innings, giving the Tigers yet another outstanding pitching effort during their playoff run.
Detroit starters have now compiled a stupendous 1.02 ERA and limited opponents to a .162 batting average over nine postseason contests in 2012.
"With the way our starting four pitchers pitched, [it] made it pretty easy for us," said Tigers outfielder Delmon Young, named the ALCS Most Valuable Player after finishing a tremendous series by going 2-for-4 with an RBI single on Thursday.
As for the Yankees, not even another lineup shakeup by manager Joe Girardi prevented the AL's top seed from ending its recurring offensive woes. The New York skipper benched star third baseman Alex Rodriguez for a second straight game and also held out slumping slugger Curtis Granderson, but the revised order still mustered just a triple from Eduardo Nunez and an RBI double out of Nick Swisher, both of which came in the sixth inning.
The Yankees scored only six runs while batting an anemic .157 (22-for-140) over the four games, their lowest average ever in a postseason series, and had gone 36 straight series in the playoffs without being swept.
"It wasn't one guy, it wasn't two guys, it was a bunch of guys," said Girardi afterward. "And it's hard to win when you don't score runs."
Detroit, on the other hand, wasn't affected by having to wait an extra day to clinch after heavy rain postponed Game 4 from its originally-scheduled start time. The Tigers pounded out 16 hits and teed off on New York ace CC Sabathia, with Jhonny Peralta slugging a pair of homers and knocking in three runs and AL Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera and Austin Jackson also going deep in the rout.
Seven Tiger regulars collected two or more hits, with Andy Dirks going 3-for-5 and both Peralta and Omar Infante ending 2-for-5 with two runs scored.
Young drove in the Tigers' first run for the fourth straight time in the series and batted .353 (6-for-17) with two homers and six RBI over the course of the sweep.
"He got hot again this year at the right time for us," said Tigers manager Jim Leyland. "He stepped it up under the big lights."
Sabathia (2-1), who pitched into the ninth inning while tossing two gems in the Yankees' ousting of Baltimore in the ALDS, lasted only 3 2/3 frames and was tagged for six runs -- five earned -- and 11 hits.
Rodriguez did enter as a pinch-hitter in the sixth inning, but went 0-for-2 to end a trying postseason with a .120 average (3-for-25) and 12 strikeouts.
The Tigers will now face either St. Louis, which downed Detroit in five games in the 2006 World Series, or San Francisco in this year's Fall Classic, with Game 1 to take place next Wednesday in the National League representative's home park.
Working on six days of rest due to Wednesday's postponement, Sabathia clearly wasn't as sharp as his two banner ALDS outings, and his struggles were evident right from the start.
Infante and Prince Fielder each singled off the big left-hander in Detroit's half of the first inning before Young came through with another clutch at-bat, a two-out base hit to right field that brought home the game's first run.
Sabathia worked out of trouble during the bottom of the second in which the Tigers stranded two runners, but couldn't escape unscathed in either of the next two frames.
After the Tigers loaded the bases with two outs in the third, with a fielding error by usually sure-handed New York first baseman Mark Teixeira extending the inning, Avisail Garcia singled in Fielder for a 2-0 advantage. Cabrera extended the margin to four runs by launching a towering drive into the left- field seats after Infante singled in the fourth.
Young singled two batters later to bring Peralta to the plate, and the veteran shortstop ended Sabathia's rough day by cracking the first pitch he saw over the wall in left-center field to stake Scherzer a 6-0 lead.
Scherzer didn't need much support. The hard-throwing righty retired 15 of the first 17 New York hitters -- nine via strikeout -- and didn't allow a hit until Nunez opened the sixth with a triple into the left-center field gap. Swisher would spoil the shutout bid with a double later in the inning.
The Yankees had an opportunity to further trim their deficit in the sixth, putting runners on the corners with two out after Teixeira drew a walk. However, left-hander Drew Smyly came on for Scherzer and induced a pinch- hitting Rodriguez into a routine fly to center field that ended the threat.
"That's why I sent him up there," said Girardi in referencing Rodriguez's success against lefties this season. "You are guaranteed a spot against him against the left-handed pitcher and he swung the bat good off [them] all year long, and it didn't happen."
That would turn out to be New York's last serious offensive charge, as Octavio Dotel allowed only a walk while fanning two in the seventh and onetime Yankee Phil Coke delivered two clean innings to polish off his former club.
Jackson and Peralta put the exclamation point on the win with solo homers in consecutive innings, with Jackson connecting off Derek Lowe in the seventh and Peralta hammering a David Robertson offering in the eighth for his first career postseason multi-homer effort.
Young became the first player in major league history to be credited with the game-winning RBI in four straight postseason games ... Cabrera's homer extended his MLB-record hitting streak in LCS to play to 17 games, and he's now reached base safely in 20 straight postseason tilts ... Detroit's 16 hits established a new team single-game postseason record in that category, breaking the mark of 15 set in its 6-4, 12-inning win over the Yankees in Game 1 ... Including a pair of postseason victories, Scherzer is now 5-1 in seven career matchups (6 starts) against the Yankees ... Sabathia suffered only his second loss (7-2) in 14 postseason appearances (13 starts) since joining New York in 2009.