DETROIT – Prince Fielder waved his arms franticly, gleefully calling off his teammates before catching the final out.
From the moment Fielder signed his massive multi-million dollar contract in January, an entire city had been waiting for a moment like this.
Max Scherzer capped a stupendous stretch for Detroit’s starting rotation, and the Tigers advanced to the World Series for the second time in seven years by beating the New York Yankees 8-1 Thursday for a four-game sweep of the A.L. championship series.
Miguel Cabrera and Jhonny Peralta hit two-run homers in a four-run fourth inning against CC Sabathia, who was unable to prevent the Yankees from getting swept in a postseason series for the first time in 32 years.
“Yeah, we did it,” Cabrera said. “It’s an unbelievable feeling. … Four more wins, guys. Four more wins.”
Scherzer took a no-hit bid into the sixth against a New York starting lineup that was again without Alex Rodriguez, who flied out with two on in the sixth as a pinch hitter.
Austin Jackson added a solo shot in the seventh for Detroit, and Peralta hit another homer an inning later.
The game ended with Fielder, Detroit’s $214 million acquisition, catching Jayson Nix’s popup. The Tigers spilled onto the field for a celebration that began near second base and eventually moved closer to the third-base line.
General manager Dave Dombrowski hugged manager Jim Leyland – who is in the final year of his contract – while owner Mike Ilitch rubbed Leyland’s right shoulder.
“I’ve got a great bunch,” Ilitch said. “We don’t have one hot dog in the bunch. They’re all great guys. … The Tigers are something special.”
Detroit won its 11th American League pennant and first since 2006. The Tigers have five days off before the World Series starts Wednesday at defending champion St. Louis or 2010 winner San Francisco.
After scoring in just three of 39 innings during the series, New York heads home to face unpleasant questions about its future following a postseason of awful hitting, benched stars and veterans showing the wear and tear of age. Rodriguez, the $275 million third baseman, was out of the starting lineup for the third time in the playoffs. Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera could only watch following season-ending injuries.
The Yankees hit .188 in the postseason – a record low for a team that played at least seven games – and .157 in the LCS. New York went quietly in the ninth inning, with the Comerica Park crowd chanting “Sweep!” while the last three batters made out in order.
Detroit outhit New York 16-2 in the finale and 46-22 in the series. The Tigers’ starters are 4-1 with a 1.02 ERA in this postseason.
Scherzer allowed a run and two hits in 5 2/3 innings in the finale, struck out 10 and walked two.
“I really had my changeup and my slider going,” he said. “When I can combine that with my fastball, that’s what makes me effective.”
New York never led in this series – the only other time that’s happened to the Yankees was when they were swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1963 World Series. The only other team to sweep an LCS without trailing at any point was the 1984 Tigers, who won three straight against Kansas City, according to STATS.
After a rainout Wednesday, Game 4 started under a sunny sky, and Detroit immediately took the lead on series MVP Delmon Young’s RBI single. Young became the first player with four winning RBIs in one postseason series, STATS said.
Sabathia allowed five earned runs and 11 hits in 3 2/3 innings.
“It’s embarrassing to me,” Sabathia said.
“They’re a good team with dominant pitching. Give those guys credit – they pitched great,” he continued. “And we didn’t match them. We pitched good, but not great. They pitched great.”
New York’s hitting was abysmal throughout the playoffs. Robinson Cano was at .075 (3 for 40) with no home runs, including a 29 at-bat hitless streak. Curtis Granderson was 3 for 30 with 16 strikeouts, Nick Swisher .167 (5 for 30) with two RBIs, Russell Martin .161 (5 for 31) with one RBI and Eric Chavez 0 for 16 with eight strikeouts.
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