October 5, 2011 in Sports

Yankees knot series with Tigers

Noah Trister Associated Press
Associated Press photo

The Yankees’ Russell Martin exults after scoring on Derek Jeter’s double in the third inning of Tuesday’s Game 4.
(Full-size photo)

DETROIT – Two great catches by Curtis Granderson helped A.J. Burnett save the Yankees’ season.

The center fielder foiled his former team with his glove and Burnett came through when New York needed him most, leading the Yankees past the Detroit Tigers 10-1 Tuesday night to send their A.L. playoff series back to the Bronx for a decisive Game 5.

Derek Jeter rebounded from a game-ending strikeout Monday, putting the Yankees ahead to stay with a two-run double in the third inning. Granderson also had an RBI double and New York broke it open with six runs in the eighth.

“We don’t win that game tonight without defense,” Burnett said.

Shaky all season, Burnett started only because Game 1 was suspended by rain Friday. He was in trouble in the first after loading the bases on walks but Granderson made a leaping grab of Don Kelly’s line drive in center field, preventing at least three runs.

Game 5 is Thursday night in New York and rookie right-hander Ivan Nova, who shut down the Tigers in the opener, will start against Doug Fister. Both came on as relievers Saturday after Game 1 started Friday night but was halted after 11/2 innings.

“He’s been great for us all season long,” Granderson said about Nova. “Don’t expect anything different for him out there two days from now.”

Saved by Granderson’s glove, Burnett allowed a run and four hits in 5 2/3 innings before turning it over to the bullpen.

Granderson was on the Detroit team that went to the World Series in 2006, but the Tigers traded him to the Yankees as part of a three-team deal after the 2009 season. Max Scherzer, a pitcher Detroit received in the deal, left his mark on this series with an impressive Game 2 start. Then it was Granderson’s turn. After hitting 41 home runs during the regular season to become an MVP contender, Granderson made his biggest impact Tuesday with his glove.

The Yankees didn’t plan to start Burnett in this series, but they didn’t have much of a choice after Game 1 took two days to finish. So they sent the erratic right-hander to the mound, hoping for the best.

New York’s worst fears appeared justified in the first. In fact, the Yankees’ bullpen was already stirring when Burnett walked three hitters, one intentionally, to bring up Kelly with two outs and the bases loaded.

Kelly hit a hard line drive to center field. Granderson appeared to misjudge the ball at first before backing up and jumping at the last second to rob Kelly of an extra-base hit.

Rafael Soriano relieved Burnett in the sixth, and Jhonny Peralta lifted a fly to left-center. Granderson came sprinting over and made a diving catch even more impressive than the first one, sliding across the outfield grass on his belly after making the grab.

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