By RICKY LINDSAY, Staff Reporter
After advancing to their second consecutive American League Championship Series, the Detroit Tigers prepared to take on the New York Yankees, the American League’s best team in the regular season. With the Yankees’ 2012 postseason struggles, the Tigers became the favorite to win the series.
The ALCS started in the Bronx, as Tigers starter Doug Fister took on Andy Pettitte and the Yankees in Game 1 of the series. Fister dominated the struggling Yankees lineup, throwing six and a third scoreless innings with five strikeouts. Pettitte went six and two-thirds innings, allowing two runs with five strikeouts.
Game 1 went to extra innings, after Tigers closer Jose Valverde continued his postseason struggles, blowing the save situation after allowing four, ninth inning runs. Delmon Young hit the go-ahead RBI in the twelfth inning, and the Tigers won 6-4 to take a 1-0 lead in the ALCS.
In Game 2, Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez was locked in a pitching duel against Hiroki Kuroda. Kuroda pitched well, throwing seven and two-thirds innings while allowing three runs and striking out 11. He also threw five perfect innings before giving up a single to Peralta in the top of the sixth inning.
Sanchez dominated the Yankees’ lineup, throwing seven scoreless innings, striking out seven, and allowing only three hits. With his performance in Game 2, Sanchez became the fifth pitcher in Tigers history to thrown seven or more innings while allowing only three or fewer hits in a postseason game.
Third baseman Miguel Cabrera went 2-4 with an RBI. Cabrera and Sanchez helped lead the Tigers to a 3-0 shutout victory in Game 2, giving the Tigers a commanding 2-0 series lead with the team heading back to Detroit.
Tigers ace Justin Verlander took the mound in Game 3 opposite Phil Hughes. Verlander pitched strong, going eight and a third innings while allowing one run, a solo homer in the ninth to Eduardo Nunez.
Hughes lasted only three innings due to a stiff back. He allowed one run, a solo home run to Young, before exiting the game.
Phil Coke, the converted closer for the time being, got the last two outs of the game, earning his second save of the playoffs. The Tigers won Game 3, 2-1, and a sweep of the Yankees loomed in the distance.
The champagne was kept on ice for another night, after Game 4 was pushed back to Thursday due to a rainout. Max Scherzer and CC Sabathia were able to start after being scheduled to go Wednesday night.
Scherzer was dominant, throwing five and two-thirds innings, while racking up ten strikeouts and allowing only one run. Sabathia struggled, going three and two-thirds innings, allowing six runs (five earned).
Thursday was all about the long-ball for Tigers hitters. Cabrera and Austin Jackson homered once, while Jhonny Peralta homered twice.
Phil Coke didn’t get the save, but ended the game by throwing two, perfect innings, giving the Tigers an 8-1 win to sweep the Yankees. With the win, the Detroit Tigers became the first team in 32 years to sweep the Yankees in a postseason series.
Delmon Young, the player who nearly lost his job in April, was named the ALCS MVP, after going 6-17 with two home runs and six RBI. Young also had the winning RBI in each game of the series.
What was once known as the Tigers weakness has now become their strength, as their starting pitchers dominated Yankees hitters with a 0.66 series ERA.
The Tigers continue to wait to see who their opponent will be in the World Series. The San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals are tied in the NLCS, with a winner take all Game 7 last night. If the Cardinals advance, it’d be their second consecutive World Series appearance, as well as a rematch of the 2006 World Series.