Just minutes away from the 5th Anniversary of their elimination win over the Yankees in Game Four of the American League Division Series in Detroit in 2006, the Detroit Tigers eliminated the New York Yankees in the first round again – this time with a heart-stopping 3-2 win in Game Five in New York.
The Tigers stunned a record-crowd of almost 51,000 in the top of the first inning with back-to-back home runs from Don Kelly and Delmon Young off of Yankees starter Ivan Nova to take a quick 2-0 lead. Tigers’ starter Doug Fister made that lead stand up in his five innings of work – stranding runners in scoring position in the 2nd and 3rd innings, then getting out a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the 4th without allowing a run to score.
The Tigers took a 3-0 lead on a Victor Martinez two-out RBI single in the top of the 5th, but the Yankees made it 3-1 on a Robinson Cano home run off Doug Fister in the bottom of the 5th. At that point, the Tigers bullpen took over – Max Scherzer worked an inning and third – and then Joaquin Benoit came on with a man on and a man out in the 7th. A base hit and infield dribbler loaded the bases…Benoit struck out Alex Rodriguez for the second out, but then walked Mark Teixieira to force in a run to make it 3-2.
With the potential go-ahead run at second, Benoit struck out Nick Swisher to end the threat. Benoit worked a scoreless eighth…getting the last out on a Derek Jeter fly ball to the wall in right field with a man on first. Then in the 9th, Jose Valverde – who had walked four batters in his two innings of work in the series – needed just eleven pitches to retired the Yankees 2-3-4 hitters with ease: Granderson hit a routine fly ball to left, Cano hit a soft, broken-bat fly ball to center, and then Valverde blew a fastball right by Rodriguez to end it.
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The Tigers eliminate the Yankees, three games to two…and now go on to play the Texas Rangers in the American League Championship Series. The first two games are in Texas, starting Saturday night. The Tigers will come home for games three, four and five, starting next Tuesday.
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