Tigers 8, Yankees 1 (box score)
Confession time. When the Tigers lost to the Chicago White Sox on Monday, September 17 to fall back three full games in the standings, I nearly wrote a blog post entitled something like “2012 Tigers: What Went Wrong?”. I decided to put the post off because I wasn’t quite ready to concede the division to the White Sox, but that was the one and only day all season that I felt their playoff hopes had slipped away.
But how foolish would that post have looked now? Just one month and one day later (though it seems a lot longer than that) the Tigers completed a four-game sweep of the New York Yankees to win the American League Pennant and advance to the World Series. This blog post will pause for a moment so we can all re-soak in the awesomeness of that thought. Tigers. Swept. Yankees.
As Dave Dombrowski mentioned during the post-game ceremony, it was extremely fitting and special for Max Scherzer to be on the mound in this game and pitch as brilliantly as he did. Scherzer had been pitching with a heavy heart after losing his brother in late June, but was able to somehow channel his energy and focus into his pitching to deliver a brilliant second half of the year (2.69 ERA). Not that baseball’s importance is anything near the same level, but you can’t help but root for a guy that goes through that type of tragedy.
Scherzer was masterful again on Thursday afternoon. The Yankees were able to elevate his pitch count, so he was only able to last 5.2 innings, but he punched out ten batters, and allowed only a single run on two hits and two walks. He left the game with a 6-1 lead and the support of a standing – and roaring – crowd.
Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of the game, however, was the breakout of the offense. The Detroit hitters hadn’t really jumped out a thumped an opposing pitcher all postseason, but they did just that against CC Sabathia and the Yankees on this afternoon. They were able to scratch out single runs in the first and third innings, but things really broke open in the fourth inning when a pair of two-run homers by Miguel Cabrera and Jhonny Peralta knocked out the Yankees’ ace and put the game out of reach.
Austin Jackson would add a solo home run in the seventh, and Jhonny Peralta blasted another one in the eighth to put the final cap on a great series for the Tigers (and a sad performance by New York). All told, the Tigers broke out for eight runs on 16 hits. The pitching has carried them this far in the postseason, but they’ll need continued offensive support to bring home the rings.
There was talk about whether or not Jose Valverde would pitch in the ninth with the game all but out of reach, but Phil Coke threw two perfect innings to close the series out – ending the game on a very fitting finger-point pop out to first base.
Delmon Young was named ALCS MVP for his performance. I’m not his number one fan, but I love the .353/.421/.765 slash line he put up. Major props.
We’ll have to wait a few days on the opponent – the St. Louis Cardinals entered the day with a 2-1 series lead over the San Francisco Giants in the NLCS.