DETROIT (Reuters) - The Detroit Tigers are headed back to the World Series for the first time in six years after crushing the New York Yankees 8-1 on Thursday to complete a four-game sweep of the American League Championship Series.
The game was postponed from Wednesday after being rained out but it only seemed to delay the inevitable as the Tigers finished off the Yankees in devastating style and now await the winner of the National League Championship Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants.
“If someone would have told me we would sweep the Yankees in this series, I would have told them they were crazy,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland told reporters. “A little luck, some pretty good pitching obviously and a couple of hits at the right time and sometimes you get on a roll that’s pretty good.”
The Yankees had been counting on CC Sabathia to extend the series but Detroit mauled the left-hander for 11 hits in 3-2/3 innings, including two-run homers from Miguel Cabrera and Jhonny Peralta in the fourth that kicked the party into top gear at a packed Comerica Park.
Austin Jackson and Peralta added solo homers to complete the rout as Detroit ended New York’s season for a second consecutive year. The four Detroit home runs match a franchise post-season record while their 16 hits set a new club standard.
”We did it, Detroit,“ said Cabrera. ”It’s what we worked for all year, trying to get to this point.
”Hopefully we’ll win the World Series for Detroit.
“We always believed we could do it and we believe we can do it in the World Series, four more wins.”
Eight runs was more than enough run support for Tigers starter Max Scherzer, who gave up one run on two hits while striking out 10 and walking two in 5-2/3 innings in getting the win.
The big right-hander had a no-hitter going through five innings until Eduardo Nunez led off the sixth with a triple and then scored New York’s only run off Nick Swisher’s double.
The Yankees, who scored just six runs in four ALCS games with four of those coming in Game One, were swept from a post-season series for the first time since the 1980 ALCS by the Kansas City Royals.
”We just didn’t swing the bats,“ Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. ”It wasn’t one guy, it wasn’t two guys.
”It was a bunch of guys and it’s hard to win when you don’t score.
“It’s never easy. There is only one team that is going to be happy when the year ends.”
Part of the reason for the Yankees lack of hitting can be traced to a Tigers starting rotation that combined for a miniscule 1.02 ERA in the ALCS, giving up just two earned runs in four games.
Detroit got on top of the Yankees early by tagging Sabathia for three singles in the first inning, before ALCS most valuable player Delmon Young drove in Omar Infante.
The Tigers had New York under pressure again in the third, loading the bases before Avisail Garcia brought in Prince Fielder to the roar of the capacity crowd.
Cabrera, the first player in 45-years to achieve the Triple Crown, then broke the game open in the fourth when he crushed a two-run homer deep into the left field bleachers followed two batters later with a two-run blast from Peralta.
Trailing 6-1 in the sixth with two men on and two out, Yankees manager Joe Girardi turned to struggling slugger Alex Rodriguez, who had been benched after batting .130 without an extra base hit or RBI, but he hit a fly ball to centre to end the New York threat.
Jackson and Peralta added to the fireworks with solo homers before Jayson Nix popped out to first baseman Prince Fielder to end the game, sparking a raucous celebration in the Motor City.
Editing by Frank Pingue/Greg Stutchbury