Tigers 8, Yankees 1: The pennant comes to Motown

It came a day late, but there was nothing short about Detroit’s sweeping victory. Max Scherzer supplied the latest stellar start, holding the befuddled Yankees hitless for 5 innings before departing in the 6th, while validating his MLB K-rate title by fanning 10 of the first 19 batters, nine of them swinging. As in the opening round, the Bengal bats broke out their one big inning in the clincher, spanking CC Sabathia to the funky beat of 6 runs on 11 hits in 3.2 IP.

They amassed 16 hits in all — surpassing their postseason record of 15, set in game 1 — and punched up 4 HRs (to match their total for the prior 8 games), including their first two multi-run HRs of this postseason. The circuit clouts were struck by Miguel CabreraJhonny Peralta (twice) and Austin Jackson; that same trio accounted for Detroit’s 4 HRs in last year’s ALCS finale, but this time there were no big crooked numbers up on the opposing line.

The first two runs off Sabathia were tainted by sloppy play at the corners. In the 1st, Eric Chavez (whose play did nothing to validate his manager’s desperate ditch of A-Rod) reacted slowly on a bouncer that may have melted into the afternoon glare, and hustling Omar Infante beat the throw; that set up Delmon Young‘s two-out liner to right for the early lead. (Young notched what we once called the “game-winning RBI” in all four contests and was rewarded with the series MVP.) With 2 outs and 2 on in the 3rd, Mark Teixeira backed up in search of a candy hop but tasted only vinegar when the ball sprang over his glove, his second misplay of the inning but first charged error, and Avisail Garcia cashed in with a chopper over CC’s head that Eduardo Nunez contained but could not convert.

As in game 3, the Yankees could not square up what hittable pitches they saw. Their only threat before garbage time came with 2 gone in the 3rd. Prince Fielder stone-handled a Nunez cue-shot, and after a steal and a walk, Nick Swisher stepped in with a chance to shed some baggage from his Titanic cargo hold. Swish had worked a 7-pitch AB in the 1st, but then swung over Scherzer’s first good slider. Here, he got ahead 2-and-1, then took a knee-high fastball that tailed back to chip the dish for strike two. Finally, with the scene set by three straight interior decorations, Scherzer nailed an outside target and got a call from umpire Jeff Nelson, leaving Swisher justifiably steamed.

Before the Bombers’ next baserunner, the Bengals’ big bang theory had blown the game off its hinges.

Scherzer breezed through the 4th with two more strikeouts, claiming Raul Ibanez for the second time. With one out in the home half, Infante looped a single into right-center, and Sabathia started Cabrera with a fastball inside. Yankee hurlers had effectively contained the triple-crown winner with hard stuff aimed at his shins, but this one came in thigh-high, and Cabrera boosted it on a majestic path. The slain spheroid shuffled off its mortal coil and found its final repose in the left-field stands. Two batters later, Peralta popped a belt-high bender into the same area code, and when Andy Dirks one-hopped the wall, the Yankees’ ace headed for the dugout, taking their last hopes with him. New York trailed by 6 runs, one more than they’d tallied in the series so far.

Scherzer left in the 6th after the lone tally, and three relievers closed it out by retiring 10 of 11 batters. For the third straight game, ex-Yankee Phil Coke got the last out, completing 5.2 scoreless innings in the series, sending the Tigers to their 11th pennant and second under Jim Leyland.

The expensive benchwarmers did get in the game, after all. Alex Rodriguez pinch-hit for Ibanez in the 6th against a lefty, with 2 outs and 2 on, and a chance to trim the bulge to 2 runs, but Drew Smyly got ahead and induced a routine flyout. Curtis Granderson batted in the 7th with a man aboard, but U-turned after three pitches, his seventh whiff in 11 hitless ABs this series to round out a 3-for-30, 16-K postseason, his only run and RBI on a solo HR. A-Rod would roll to short for the 2nd out of the 9th, completing the autumn of his discontent at 3 for 25 with no RBI. Robinson Cano took another collar and wound up 3 for 40. Swisher collected the long-awaited RBI, but finished the postseason at 5 for 30; Russell Martin finished 5 for 31, while Eric Chavez fanned in both his trips to maintain a pristine 0 for 16. New York batted .157 for the series, Detroit .291.

____________________

The starters’ efforts in Detroit’s 9-game run to the World Series have averaged about 7 innings and 1 run, with 66 Ks in 62 IP; none has yielded more than 2 runs in a game. In the unexpectedly brief ALCS, the four-man crew meted out 2 runs in 27.1 IP. And while Scherzer alone has failed to deliver a quality start, that’s just because he’s been short-leashed by a couple of dings; his outings have been touched by just 2 runs (1 ER) on 5 hits in 11 IP, with 18 Ks against 3 walks.

____________________

Delmon Young was so hot, he even drew his first unintentional walk in his last 50-some postseason PAs.

____________________

The finale brought to mind a line near the end of the endlessly quotable film The Lion in Winter, spoken by Anthony Hopkins as Richard the Lionheart. He and his brother princes have been scrapping to be named heir by Henry II, but are now endungeoned under pall of execution. Cornered, the warrior Richard blusters defiantly — “He isn’t going to see me beg!” — while bloodless Geoffrey mocks him: “Why, you chivalric fool. As if the way one fell down mattered.” But Richard is unbowed:

“When the fall is all there is, it matters.”

For most of their history, the Yankees have lived by a very different meaning of “the fall is all there is.” October wears pinstripes. But today, with their ouster from this year’s pageant all but certain, the highest hopes reserved by many fans and surely some within the organization were for nothing but a decent showing, a noble fall: that for one game at least, at last, with their indomitable ace on the hill, this team might actually look like The Yankees, and if not change their fate, at least go down fighting.

No such luck. The Yanks exited the stage today in seeming disarray: Captain fallen, Ace battered, Achilles sulking in his tent, Skipper setting courses that cried out “My kingdom for a horse!”; dismissed for the second straight year by a team that has rarely been addressed in the Yankees’ plans for world domination. One should not get carried away by these four games, or by this fortnight’s scoring drought; the organization lacks nor means nor smarts to build the bridge to the next championship team. But the pervading sense is: that team, whenever they arrive, will not look much like this one.

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Hartvig
Hartvig
9 years ago

The only taint on the whole Series that I can think of was that Jeter wasn’t around for the last 3 games. He had hit well in the Division Series- maybe he could have made a difference in a game or 2. Breaks of the game, I guess.

I hope we get the Cardinals in the series even though I think we would match up better with the Giants. I really want payback for 2006.

Time to pour myself a splash of Jamesons and get my carcass to bed.

bstar
bstar
9 years ago
Reply to  Hartvig

Congrats, Hartvig. I’m all in on the Tigers. Fortunately for you, looks like it will be the Cards you’re going up against, who will be brimming with confidence as well.

Gordon
Gordon
9 years ago

Congrats to all Tigers fans, I’m very happy for them.

On a statistical note: according to ESPN, the Yankees had the lowest batting average in a postseason…. Ever! That seems incredible, considering they enjoyed a fine Papa Grande implosion.

Doug
Editor
9 years ago
Reply to  Gordon

They also had the lowest BA (.157) in any LCS series since the first ALCS in 1969, when the Twins went .155 in 3 games.

Richard Chester
Richard Chester
9 years ago
Reply to  Gordon

The Yankees overall BA of .188 was the lowest for a team playing in more than one set of post-season series. There have been many occasions of a lower BA for a team playing in just one set, either a WS, LDS or LCS.

Jason Z
9 years ago

I thought I heard that the Yankee BA was the lowest for a team
that played a minimum of seven postseason games.

The previous record was the Twins in 1965 at .195

Congrats to the Tigers.

This reminded me of the first WS I watched when
the Big Red Machine made short work of my Yankees
in 1976.

I can only hope 13 and 14 are like 77 and 78.

Richard Chester
Richard Chester
9 years ago
Reply to  Jason Z

You heard right. The previous record was the Twins in 1965 and also the Dodgers in 1956. They were both had 42 H in 215 AB.

Jason Z
9 years ago

Thanks Richard. I find you to be very reliable on these matters, one might even say Eliasesque. BTW, did I read correctly on another post that you wrote a book about baseball. I feel the need to buy it. I like to support the contributors on this site. Please let me know how I might obtain a copy. If you prefer to do this privately, please contact Andy for my email address. I assume he can provide it and has my permission to do so. Finally, I see that Ryan Vogelsong has 5K through 2 innings. What is the record… Read more »

Richard Chester
Richard Chester
9 years ago

Reply to #58.
Jason Z: I have never written a book, however, I have posted 2 articles on this web-site, one about George McQuinn and one about Lots of Hits. Outside of a college term paper they are the longest articles I have ever written. I really enjoy searching for data via Baseball Reference and its Play Index, the tougher the search the better. Don’t hesitate to ask for a search.

Ed
Ed
9 years ago

Jason Z. – I agree with all the wonderful things you said re: Richard!

As for your question, you are correct that Livan Hernandez holds the NLCS record with 15 strikeouts in a game (Mike Mussina and Roger Clemens have done the same in the ALCS).

If you include the NLDS, then Kevin Brown holds the record with 16.

And the WS record is 17 by Bob Gibson.

Richard Chester
Richard Chester
9 years ago

@60

Thanks for the kind words Ed.

Jason Z
9 years ago

Ed: I have seen the Gibson game twice. During the offseason you can usually catch it on ESPN classic. Or maybe MLB network. Although, in regards to MLB, they do not seem to show as many old games as they used to. They seem to focus more on original programming. As for that game, it is a thing of beauty. The speed with which the pitchers worked back in the day is a joy to watch. In fact, now that we are approaching WS time, I expect right now to see lots of old WS games on ESPN Classic this… Read more »

Jason Z
9 years ago

ESPN Classic this week. Most of the following games are on multiple times, I am just going to list one time here. Today at 4:30PM Game 3 of the 1997 WS Tuesday at 3:00PM Game 6 in 1977… Reggie…Reggie…Reggie… 5:00PM Game 3 in 2011 Wednesday at 11:00AM Game 6, 1992 1:00PM Game 6, 1987 Thursday at 11:00AM Game 7, 1987 Friday at 12:00AM game 7, 1997 2:00AM game 6, 2002 4:00AM game 7, 2002 8:00AM game 3, 2007…Yawn… One caveat, these are all two-hour broadcasts so you won’t see the complete game. Occassionaly during the offseason, they will rebroadcast the… Read more »

Doug
Editor
9 years ago

Not to be party-pooper, but only one of the 5 previous teams to sweep a best-of-seven LCS has won in the WS. That was the 1995 Braves.

The other 4 teams (2007 Rockies, 2006 Tigers, 1990 As, 1988 As) were either swept in the WS, or won just a single game.

Jacob
Jacob
9 years ago
Reply to  Doug

Wow. Quick guess: because you have a long layoff if you sweep? Overconfidence issues? Or is that too much armchair psychology?

I’m still scarred by the experience of the 2006 WS, where my beloved Tigers seemed destined to beat the Cards into pulp. If Detroit faces St. Louis again, I will be a nervous wreck for 2 weeks.

Brent
Brent
9 years ago
Reply to  Jacob

Do you recall what some national writers predicted in 2006 for the WS? Tigers in 3.

Yeah, that didn’t sit well with TLR, as you would expect.

Voomo Zanzibar
Voomo Zanzibar
9 years ago
Reply to  Brent

Brent, I will bet you one million dollars that the Tigers don’t win it in 3.

Jim Bouldin
Jim Bouldin
9 years ago
Reply to  Voomo Zanzibar

You can get a VERY long extension cord with a million dollars Voomo.

Giants in 7.

Voomo Zanzibar
Voomo Zanzibar
9 years ago
Reply to  Voomo Zanzibar

Extension cord? I’m not living without electricity, Bouldin. And actually, I thought through the odds over afternoon tea. I wouldn’t, in fact, take a straight-up million dollar bet on (not)Tigers in 3. I’d go 1000-1. Yes, I’d put up a thousand of my own money to win a million. Besides the fact that I actually have a thousand to bet, the odds of the Tigers going up 3-0 and then something catastrophic occurring that would require the remaining WS to be canceled and Detroit to be named the champs are astronomical – but maybe less than 1,000,000-1. So it is… Read more »

tag
tag
9 years ago

John,

The Tigers’ victory has inspired you to some soaring rhetoric. Wow! What a pleasurable read. Hell, all the mixed metaphors, mixed epochs, and mixed allusions/references even work.

I might have thrown some quasi-Melville in as well: “Ungifted with the high postseason performance, ARod possesses the low, enjoying power” (hitting on those bikini models). But he remains “damned most subtly and malignantly. Damned in the midst of paradise.”

Well, maybe NYC’s not exactly paradise. 🙂

tag
tag
9 years ago
Reply to  John Autin

Awesome. Consistency in style is waaay overrated anyway. Shakespeare was the king of the mixed metaphor. You’re following in a grand tradition.
Plus paella is one of my favorite foods. Why can’t similes and allusions function the same way as seafood and sausage?

oneblankspace
oneblankspace
9 years ago

The Tigers have played the Cardinals in the Series 3 times (they’ve played the Cubs 4 times) and have never played the Giants.

Mike L
Mike L
9 years ago

John A. You have unsuspected gifts for purple prose.

Mike L
Mike L
9 years ago

“For over a thousand years Roman conquerors returning from the wars enjoyed the honor of triumph, a tumultuous parade. In the procession came trumpeteers, musicians and strange animals from conquered territories, together with carts laden with treasure and captured armaments. The conquerors rode in a triumphal chariot, the dazed prisoners walking in chains before him. Sometimes his children robed in white stood with him in the chariot or rode the trace horses. A slave stood behind the conqueror holding a golden crown and whispering in his ear a warning: that all glory is fleeting.”
– Gen. George C. Patton

e pluribus munu
e pluribus munu
9 years ago

You keep raising the bar, JA. I’m looking forward to WS game notes in blank verse.

Bryan O'Connor
Editor
9 years ago

Rarely does prose so jubilant and so eloquent grace these pages or any dedicated to the game we all love. A glorious Friday morning shines even brighter for your efforts.

Jim Bouldin
Jim Bouldin
9 years ago

John, I’d like to add my voice to those praising your eloquence on yesterday’s consummating events. If interested, I’d also like to work with you on a Reader’s Digest condensed version. As such, I’d like to present the following as a rough (but well considered) first draft:

THE TIGERS ARE GOING TO THE F***ING WORLD SERIES!!!!
THE TIGERS ARE GOING TO THE F***ING WORLD SERIES!!!!
THE TIGERS ARE GOING TO THE F***ING WORLD SERIES!!!!

bstar
bstar
9 years ago
Reply to  Jim Bouldin

Congrats Jim and also JA, and any Tigers fans I am forgetting on here. Enjoy it….and beat the Cardinals(sorry, Evan)!

birtelcom
Editor
9 years ago

John’s style reminds me most of the work of the late essayist and critic John Leonard, who loved to call on the widest range of sources from both high culture and pop culture to comment on society and the media with a light but penetrating touch. Nice to know that approach continues on here at HHS. Over the last 100 World Series, this will be Detroit’s 8th appearance. If St. Louis can wrap up the NL pennant, it would be their 19th appearance in the last 100 World Series. Amusing then, that they would be bumping into each other yet… Read more »

Brent
Brent
9 years ago
Reply to  John Autin

Well, one reason is because the worst Cardinals stretch is probably the best Yankees’ strech. From 1947 to 1964, the Yankees went to every WS but 3 (1948, 1954, 1959), but the Cardinals only made one of those WS (in which they faced the Yankees).

Hmm, considering the Cardinals are the only team to have bested the Yankees in a majority of their WS appearances (not counting the teams the Yankees have only faced once and lost to), maybe the Yankees have a gift for missing the Cardinals. 🙂

tag
tag
9 years ago

John, Hartvig, Jim and all other Tiger fans, congrats, and I’m glad your team beat the Yanks, but did they have to sweep? I would have got to watch one more game if two tilts had been scheduled today: 4 pm EST starts are fine for me but those 8 pm ones are vampire hour affairs here. This is a terrible time of year because WS games are almost always played under the lights and we to the east of Greenwich get blacked out by the dark pit of 2 a.m. leadoff batters. Bring back day baseball! Let the Cubs… Read more »

Alan
Alan
9 years ago

“Captain fallen, Ace battered, Achilles sulking in his tent”. Excellent Homeric imagery there, J. It’s good to see that your boys’ domination of the field has led to such prosaic waxing. As for this part “When the fall is all there is, it matters”, that is also well quoth, and mayhap it applies as well on the National side of things. Will the Giants find a way to at least bring the fall back to SF, where the devoted multitudes can bear witness and give one last metaphorical hug to their over-matched warriors? ‘Twould be nice. But as for another… Read more »

Alan
Alan
9 years ago
Reply to  John Autin

“sound just like a ChiSox fan!” Aww, thas’ cold. Accurate, but cold.

Alan
Alan
9 years ago
Reply to  John Autin

Yes, and huzzah! I got my tickets for Game 6 in hand.

RJ
RJ
9 years ago
Reply to  John Autin

The inability for a commentator to admit he did not see the play correctly on first viewing, an illness which extends to commentators in all sports, is incredibly frustrating, especially as we would not judge them too harshly for it. Often it is very difficult to see what should have happened, or what did happen, without the benefit of replay. Their stubbornness merely makes them look stupid.

bstar
bstar
9 years ago
Reply to  John Autin

I think McCarver (stunningly) was at least half-right. It’s pretty clear to me that Descalso was supposed to cover second on a DP ball to the pitcher. Kozma misread the play, thinking Lynn would get it and throw to Descalso. Kozma didn’t immediately see Descalso going for the ball and was late to second to cover for Descalso not being there. I do think there was IF confusion on the play.

Just my interpretation.

bstar
bstar
9 years ago
Reply to  John Autin

J, there’s no doubt Lynn made an awful throw. But I thought McCarver said that also, pointing out that even if Kozma had been there, it may not have mattered since Kozma likely couldn’t get his glove in front of the base before the ball hit it. I just think Kozma got confused and thought either the ball was going past Lynn or that Descalso was going to be at second to field the throw. Even if the throw had been chest-high, you’re saying Kozma would have been able to catch it? I didn’t think he was in position to… Read more »

bstar
bstar
9 years ago
Reply to  bstar

My interpretation of why he broke back/to the side was he was backing up the throw from Lynn that Descalso was supposed to field. Then he realizes Descalso went for the ball at the last second and goes toward the bag but can’t get there in time.

kds
kds
9 years ago
Reply to  bstar

Everything was in front of Lynn, and he has plenty of time since Panda wasn’t near the bag. He should not be throwing to the bag but to the fielder going to the bag. A chest high throw leading Kozma should have been easy. since he was running to the bag his momentum would ave made it easy for him to step on the bag and make a strong throw to 1st.

bstar
bstar
9 years ago
Reply to  bstar

From Lynn’s view Kozma is behind the bag because he thought he’d be backing up Descalso. This is where the “infield confusion” did come into play. I wasn’t arguing that Lynn didn’t make a bad throw, just that he may have gotten confused because he knew before the play that Descalso was supposed to be there for the DP throw. But when he turns, Descalso is nowhere to be found in his vision. This could have contributed to his bad throw (he had to change his target the moment before he released the throw). That’s why I said McCarver was… Read more »

Doug
Editor
9 years ago
Reply to  John Autin

To give McCarver his due, he did pick up that Zito probably made the decision to bunt after sizing up Freese’s positioning at third. The super slo-mo replay bore McCarver out, as Zito made two split-second glances to third (just moved his eyes, not his head), just as Lynn was starting his delivery.

But, for the most part, McCarver was the master of the obvious, and usually at tediously great length.

topper009
topper009
9 years ago
Reply to  John Autin
topper009
topper009
9 years ago
Reply to  John Autin

Zito is a horrible hitter, he only has 9 RBIs in his career and no XBH. He is 30 for 310 with no bunt hits. I wonder if that is the sort of line a high school all star type regular person could put up in the majors.

Voomo Zanzibar
Voomo Zanzibar
9 years ago
Reply to  John Autin

Heard it on the radio while driving.
Krukow and Kuiper were pretty stoked.

You can hear it in the 2nd replay of it at mlb.com
Krukow is so stoked that his voice cracks
“Zito puts down a pearl!”

RJ
RJ
9 years ago

That Barry Zito bunt was immense.

RJ
RJ
9 years ago
Reply to  John Autin

Zito must have been taking notes from the bench.

RJ
RJ
9 years ago
Reply to  John Autin

His beard is weighing him down.

Doug
Editor
9 years ago
Reply to  John Autin

At the risk of relating the obvious, the movement on Zito’s stuff was just tremendous. And, he could pretty much spot it at will. But, with his dead straight mid-80s fastball, he pretty much has to be totally ON with his other pitches (as he was tonight) to be effective.

Suddently, with Vogelsong and Cain at home, the Giants look like they have more than half a chance.

bstar
bstar
9 years ago
Reply to  John Autin

Apologies if someone already mentioned this, but I believe that’s 13 straight Zito starts won by the Giants. He’s hardly been dominating in that stretch, but I’m sure the Giants are aware they haven’t lost with Zito on the hill in awhile.

And yes, I believe Sergio Romo is 5’8″ on a good day.

kds
kds
9 years ago
Reply to  bstar

The Cards think he is 6’8″ on a bad day.

birtelcom
Editor
9 years ago
Reply to  bstar

Yes, that’s 13 Giant wins in Zito’s past 13 starts. But as you point out, that doesn’t mean Barry has pitched much better. Over his first 21 starts this season, during which the Giants were 10-11, hitters had a .747 OPS against Zito. In his last 11 regular season starts, during which the Giants were 11-0, hitters had an OPS against him of .779.

MikeD
MikeD
9 years ago

I don’t know. Are we sure the Tigers are even a good team? I mean, according to ESPN, the Yankees need to be blown up, despite having the most wins in the AL and making it to the final four. Yet they’re apparently a minor league team, so beating them convincingly must mean nothing. On a more serious note, I would imagine the most difficult challenge for the Tigers will be the rather long layoff between game four and the start of the World Series, be it against the Cardinals or the Giants. I’m still figuring on the a Cardinals-Tigers… Read more »