2011 Season Over; Yankees Blow Countless Chances In Game 5 Loss

Load Bases Many Times But Season Ends With 3-2 Loss To Tigers In Finale

Updated at 12:30 a.m., Oct. 7, 2011

NEW YORK (AP) — The Detroit Tigers survived a tense trip back to Bronx, with Jose Valverde and the bullpen holding on time and time again to beat the New York Yankees 3-2 Thursday night to win the deciding Game 5 of their AL playoff series.

Don Kelly and Delmon Young hit consecutive home runs in the first inning, then Doug Fister and the Tigers spent the rest of a thrilling game trying to preserve their lead.

They did — barely — and advanced to the AL championship series against Texas.

“It was a gutsy win, especially with all the opportunities they had,” Kelly said.

Joaquin Benoit followed Max Scherzer in the seventh and walked Mark Teixeira with the bases loaded, pulling the Yankees within a run. Benoit struck out Nick Swisher with a 95 mph fastball to keep the lead.

Then in the eighth, Brett Gardner singled with two outs before Derek Jeter flied out to Kelly just in front of the right-field wall.

Valverde finished with the only 1-2-3 inning for Detroit after the first, getting his second save of the series and remaining perfect in 51 chances this year. After Valverde struck out Alex Rodriguez to end it, the Tigers’ closer crouched and pumped both arms as his teammates ran out to celebrate.

“The Yankees are so good that I would be lying if I said it didn’t give me a little extra satisfaction to be able to do it here in the fifth game,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “This will be a game I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”

While the Yankees were eliminated in the postseason with a one-run loss at home for the first time since the 1926 World Series against St. Louis, Detroit won an all-or-nothing postseason game for the first time since beating the Cardinals in Game 7 of the 1968 World Series.

With the Tigers vying for their first World Series title since 1984, ace Justin Verlander will start the ALCS opener at Texas on Saturday night against the Rangers’ C.J. Wilson. This will be Detroit’s first trip to the ALCS since 2006.

Before a new Yankee Stadium record crowd of 50,960, New York had its chances, but the Yankees went 2 for 9 with runners in scoring position and 0 for 4 with the bases loaded, and they stranded 10 runners.

While the Yankees led the AL with 97 wins during the regular season, the early exit in the first round and second straight season without a World Series title will set off a restless offseason search for more starting pitching and offense.

Rodriguez was 0 for 4 with three strikeouts and hit .118 in the series (2 for 18) and Teixeira batted .167 (3 for 18). Robinson Cano, whose fifth-inning solo homer started the comeback attempt, was the Yankees’ primary offense with nine RBIs.

Kelly and Young homered on the sixth and seventh pitches from Ivan Nova, the Game 1 winner who led rookies with 16 wins during the regular season and hadn’t loss in the majors since June 3.

The homers were the first back-to-back postseason shots in Tigers’ history, and it was the third homer of the series for Young, who was acquired from Minnesota on Aug. 15. Kelly was a surprise starter at third to some.

“The crowd’s into it at the beginning and it was just good to get on the board,” Kelly said. “It’s big to get out in front early here.”

Young, the first Tigers player with three homers in a single postseason series, left in the seventh because of a mild left oblique strain and will be re-evaluated Friday.

“On the last swing I felt a little tweak,” Young said. “I went out there but wasn’t able to finish off my throws. So there’s no point playing superhero right now.”

After pitching scoreless ball into the ninth inning in winning the resumption of the opener, Nova (1-1) lasted just 31 pitches and six outs, with the Yankees saying he came out due to tightness in his right forearm.

“We didn’t like the way the ball was coming out of his hand. I think it was directly related to that,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “Some of his fastballs were cutting, and we never saw that. So I had to make a change.”

Phil Hughes started warming up after Nova’s sixth batter, Magglio Ordonez, doubled leading off the second. Ordonez advanced on Alex Avila’s groundout, but Nova worked out of trouble when Jhonny Peralta hit a one-hopper to third baseman Alex Rodriguez with the infield in and Ramon Santiago struck out.

When Hughes replaced Nova to start the third, Miguel Cabrera held up his hands, as if he were saying, “What’s this?”

It was just the start of the procession from the Yankees’ bullpen in right-center to the mound.

Hughes was pulled after his 21st pitch, a one-out single by Ordonez in the fourth. Avila, who had been 0 for 13 in the series, singled on left-hander Boone Logan’s first pitch. Boone lasted just seven pitches and two outs.

That was followed by the odd sight of the 290-pound CC Sabathia jogging in from the Yankees’ bullpen in midgame with his size 15 spikes and size 42 baseball pants. All 421 of his previous professional appearances had been starts, and he threw 106 pitches Monday night without a decision in Game 3.

Detroit immediately tacked on a run for a 3-0 lead. Former Yankee Austin Jackson led off the fifth with a broken-bat double to left. After a pair of strikeouts, Cabrera was intentionally walked and Victor Martinez, Sabathia’s former Cleveland teammate, hit an RBI single to center. Former Tigers star Curtis Granderson bobbled the ball as he tried to make a quick pickup.

New York had put increasing pressure on Fister, who kept escaping trouble as his pitch count ran up. He stranded a runner on second in the second inning when Swisher grounded out and Jorge Posada struck out, then got Cano to pop out with two on in the third. The Yankees loaded the bases with one out in the fourth on a walk and two singles, but Fister retired Russell Martin and Gardner on infield popups.

After Cano’s ninth RBI of the series, the Yankees loaded the bases with one out for the second time. Jeter beat a one-out single to shortstop in the seventh, bringing on Benoit. After umpires made the reliever remove a bandage from the left side of his face covering an ingrown hair, Granderson lined a single to right and Cano hit a two-hopper off the end of his bat to the third-base side of the mound that got by Benoit.

Rodriguez swung through a pitch that appeared to have been inside, which would have run the count full, and Teixeira walked on a 3-1 count before Benoit fanned Swisher.

NOTES: The Yankees used seven pitchers, one short of the record for a nine-inning postseason game. … The Tigers have not lost consecutive games since Aug. 28-29. … New York has not won the final game of a series pushed to the maximum since rallying past the Boston Red Sox in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

  • Ron

    Joe’s lack of managing was underwhelming to say the least. He managed the pitching, but he “rested on offense” (as they say in basketball). A tight, low-scoring game like that called for sacrifice bunts to move runners up, steals (Gardner only ran once, when Jeter flew out to end an inning), and pinch-hitting. There was none of it, however. It was a listless offensive output managed by a listless manager. Martin was really struggling, and they needed to pinch-hit for him instead of letting him flail away his last two at-bats. They needed to pinch-hit for Swisher (Mr. July), whose career postseason RISP sank to 1 for 30. Andrew Jones never batted once during the series. Jesus Montero was available to pinch-hit. They needed a boost from the bench, but Joe apparently didn’t think he needed his bench to provide a spark. I certainly disagree with his decisions to keep batting people who were struggling.

    And 2 postseason wins with home-field advantage for the winningest, highest-paid team in the AL is unacceptable. In my mind, this cements Girardi’s mediocrity as a manager. I do not believe the Yanks will ever win a World Series again as long as Joe G. is the manager, though I hope I’m wrong.

    Detroit played well, Leyland managed well, and they deserved to win. But the Yanks were a big flop and should have won the series.

    The only hitters who came through on a consistent basis were Posada and Gardner. Everyone else under-performed. The Yanks were struggling to score runs because they sat back waiting for the extra base hits that never came. They needed to play small ball and manufacture runs in that kind of a game. Two of Detroit’s starters had ERAs of just under 5.00 for the season, and they handled the Yanks pretty well for the most part.

    This underachieving team makes me appreciate the teams with the character and pride guys – Scott Brosius, Roy White, Thurman Munson, Paul O’Neill, Tino Martinez, et al.

  • dabooch

    Inevitible with proven battle tested failures at the post: A Rod, Teixeira, Swisher. Three years of failure for the latter, will the Yanks give him 10 million in 2012, disgrace. The other bums: SIX MORE YEARS to watch Miami Lice via the Bronx. The other choker Texarcana couldn’t buy a hit when it counts with the $ 23,000,0000 the idiots threw his way. One other note CC needs to lose 100 pounds, he is only a 1A- ACE.

  • EastCoastDetroiter

    You know, it’s funny how Karma works sometimes…after the Yankees screwed the Red Sox team by throwing their games against Tampa Bay, just so the Bloody sox wouldn’t make it to the playoffs…it all came back to kick them right in the berries. And to all those d- bag Yankee fans who feel their birthright is to visit the World series every year….here’s a reality check for ya…..most of your Yankees all stars CHOKED when you needed them most!!! Ha-Ha-Ha!!!!!!!!

    • bakersson55

      Been a Yankees fan for 50 years now living in AZ the last 35 yrs and as much as I hate to say it, EastCoastDetroiter hit the nail on the head. An epic and pathetic performance by the Yankee millionaires. Disgraceful lack of critical hiiting or pitching. This teams needs a COMPLETE overhaul and infusion of YOUTH spread over a 5 year program. Let us bury these aged vets and divas who we pay a fortune and break our hearts. Why have the Yankees not honored Roger Maris’ (remember him?) 50th year anniversary of his 61st homer?? How disgraceful! The club should spearhead a campaign for his long overdue induction to the Hall of Fame and honor his family.


    HATE the Skannkees. (and not a Bosox or Mets fan)

    And no room for a parade right now anyway. Wall St area is currently occupied and will be so for a while.

  • A-Slob Must Go

    You are a pathetic waste of life for writing that Irene. Go stand on the street corner.

  • Bill

    Times are chaning. Younger generations care less about baseball because it resembles more a game than a sport. Let’s not get all caught up in this game where a hard hit ball leads to an out (or opposite), or a short porchis a home run (or an out in another park), or an umpire’s strike zone defines who is better. This is the problem with baseball, and why it will continuosly decline in public popularity as the generations move on.

    Fortunately, we still have football. Baseball is as much a sport as bowling is. this comes from a lifelong baseball player/fan, who now sees the light.

    • Bill

      Also I hope Francesa sees this and adapts with the times. 6 hours of baseball talk is mind-numbingly boring, and constantly makes me think of gray hair and fat bellies.

    • Gray

      Baseball is still #2 behind Football – Hockey is in 4th and Basketball might find itself tied there depending on how this lock out goes. I see some replays of outs and other things but .. in all honesty Baseball will likely stay where it is behind the NFL and ahead of the NBA and NHL.



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