The Tigers defeat the Yankees, three games to two. Yeah, New York, that just happened.
Key stat: 11-for-47. That’s what the Yankees hit with runners in scoring position over the course of the entire series, and that includes their 6-for-14 effort in their 10-1 Game 4 blowout. The Yankees supposedly had a killer lineup, but the bats just didn’t come through when it really counted.
Key hitters (Tigers): Detroit came in with a pretty potent lineup of their own, but it wasn’t really even their best bats doing the damage. Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, Jhonny Peralta and Alex Avila all finished the series hitting .222 or less with sub-.700 OPS. In fact, outside of Magglio Ordonez and Delmon Young, no Tiger really hit that well as Detroit finished the series with a team slash line of .226/.319/.355. They just happened to get hits at the right times, which is probably why all three of their wins were close games and the Yankees outscored Detroit for the series by a count of 28 to 17.
Key pitchers (Tigers): While Verlander got all the hype heading into the series, he was good but not great in his start. The guy who deserves more credit is Max Scherzer who stepped up to shutdown the Yankees in Game 2 to prevent the Tigers from falling into a 0-2 hole before facing Sabathia in Game 3. Doug Fister should get some love too. Sure he got shelled in his Game 1 start/relief appearance, but he rebounded in a big way in Game 5 to put Detroit in position to clinch the ALDS.
Key hitters (Yankees): Robinson Cano was tremendous in this series, cranking out two doubles, two homers and nine RBIs. But the “key” hitters for the Yankees were Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira who were key in the sense that they did almost nothing over these five games. Tex managed to go 3-for-18 with two doubles and one RBI. But he looked great compared to A-Rod who went 2-for-18 with no extra base hits and six strikeouts. With a the four and five spots in the order giving that kind of production, it is a miracle that this series even went five games.
Key pitchers (Yankees): Here is all you need to know about the Yankee pitching this series: A.J. Burnett was their best pitcher. Ouch. Much like A-Rod and Teixeira, CC Sabathia was key to the series because of his poor performance. In his “real” start, Sabathia looked off, walking six while allowing seven hits over 5+ innings. Most importantly, he blew a first inning two-run lead, something CC would normally run into an easy victory. What was really damning though was that Sabathia came in to work in relief in Game 5 and was hittable once again, leading to him allowing what would prove to be the series winning run. I know it is just one series, but Sabathia might want to think long and hard about opting out of his contract this off-season.
The series could have had a different result if… the first game hadn’t been rain delayed after two innings. Let’s be honest, when this series started, we all assumed the Verlander and Sabathia were both going to get a chance to make two starts, but both really only made one because of Game 1 getting rain delayed for an entire day after just the first two innings. If those guys both pitch Games 1 and 4, there is no telling if this series would have even gone five games or that the Tigers would’ve won. In a certain respect, I think we all got cheated here.
You can’t blame… Mariano Rivera, because he pretty much didn’t play this series. He faced one batter to finish off Game 1 and was never seen again. That’s significant considering that the Yankees lost two games by one run and another by two runs. In each of those losses, the bullpen coughed up a run. So, just to recap, two relievers took losses for the Yankees in this series while the greatest reliever to ever live faced one batter with a six-run lead in the first game and was never used again.
Series MVP: I’m calling this one a tie. The Series MVP 1A goes to Delmon Young who clubbed three homers in the series, including the game-winner in Game 3 and then another in Game 5. But I’m also awarding Series MVP 1B to Jose Valverde. He wasn’t that good in the series, but his daring guarantee (sort of) after Game 2. That proclamation showed that the Tigers weren’t afraid of the mighty Yankees.
Next up: At long last, we have out first LCS match-up set. The Tigers move on to face the Texas Rangers and have their rotation set so that Justin Verlander to start Game 1, which suddenly makes Jiim Leyland look like a genius for not using Verlander in relief. Detroit won the regular season series 6-3 and does set up to be a tough match-up for Texas since the Tigers are a right-hand heavy lineup that could cause problems for C.J. Wilson, Derek Holland and Matt Harrison.