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Max Scherzer helps lift Tigers to ALDS series split in New York

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Final - 10.2.2011 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Detroit Tigers 2 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 1 5 9 0
New York Yankees 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 3 5 1
WP: Max Scherzer (1 - 0)
LP: Freddy Garcia (0 - 1)

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BOX

KEY STATS

Max Scherzer -- 5 1/3 no-hit innings, 0 runs allowed

Yankees -- 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position

Miguel Cabrera -- HR

KEY PLAYS

Actually getting Robinson Cano out when it counts. He could have made the New Yorkers quite happy when he came to the plate in the ninth inning, but Jose Valverde got him to ground out to second instead for the game-ender.

Cano singled in the sixth to break up Max Scherzer's no-hitter.

All the Tigers' scoring plays? Miguel Cabrera homered in the first for the 2-0 lead. Cabrera and Victor Martinez drove in runs in the sixth for the 4-0 lead. (Derek Jeter earns the assist for an inning-opening error.) Finally, Don Kelly, playoff wizard, drove in an insurance run in the ninth.

Joaquin Benoit used a couple of strikeouts to help Scherzer escape the seventh unscathed.

KEY THOUGHTS

WHEW.

WHEW.

WHEW WHEW WHEW.

WHEW.

I don't know if I can sigh and exhale enough after that. Way too much stress. First you're worrying about the no hitter, then you're still worrying about winning the game. And then you're worrying about the next day's bullpen.

And then you're really, really, really worrying and shaking and rocking and curling in the fetal position and freaking out and breathing shallowly and averting your eyes and freaking out as Jose Valverde struggles to get the third out in the ninth. He struggled to get the first out in the ninth. That was bad enough.

When Alex Avila slipped on THE YANKEES LOGO(!) on-deck circle as he tried to make the game-ending catch, then Curtis Granderson walked, then Robinson Cano came to the plate with a chance to give the Yankees a walkoiff victory and dagger into Detroit's hearts, I was pretty sure the baseball gods scripted it that way as some sort of punishment to Tigers fans. I don't know why we'd have deserved punishment. We put up with so much. But you never know what causes a vengeful god to toss a lightning bolt at your butt. So I was freaked. As were you if you're truly honest with yourself.

My blood pressure rises just reliving that.

WHEW.

Blogging is gong to be so much easier for the next 24 hours.

The big differences today came were that the key players Detroit needed to perform to win showed up. That's especially true from the batting order. No one but Delmon Young got much of anything going in Game 1. In Game 2, while Young's bat fell silent, Cabrera came up big with three RBIs and Martinez added a fourth. This was set up by Magglio Ordonez's three-hit game.

Meanwhile Max Scherzer did everything he needed to on the mound. He was truly the wild card. You never know what you'll get, but when he's good he's really good. He kept the ball in the park -- really, kept it in the infield -- and struck out five. He had a few hiccups along the way but pitched out of them.

Detroit needed to win one game in New York. Obviously the way you draw it up is for Justin Verlander to win Game 1, Doug Fister to have a great chance at winning Game 2, and Scherzer to take the mound at home for Game 3. So it didn't work out quite that way. Who cares.

Justin Verlander will take the mound in Detroit with a chance to give his team a choke-hold on the series, while the Yankees are now the ones who could be considered in a must-win situation. Well, they are in a must-win situation. If they don't win a game in Detroit, they don't play another home game in New York until 2012.

There's a few worries, to be sure. Joaquin Benoit may not be available after going two innings, and Jose Valverde stayed on the mound pretty long himself. But that's OK. Verlander is the ace for a reason. Complete game, Justin. We're going to need one. Can you deliver?

A winding, wet road in New York, maybe. But the Tigers can fly home with their heads held high. They did what they needed to in New York.

WHEW.