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Tigers advance to ALCS, knock out Yankees with thrilling 3-2 victory

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Final - 10.6.2011 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Detroit Tigers 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 3 8 0
New York Yankees 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 2 10 0
WP: Doug Fister (1 - 1)
SV: Jose Valverde (2)
LP: Ivan Nova (1 - 1)

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That thing called breathing? Feel free to start again...

BOX

KEY STAT A

Both from the Official Tigers Twitter, both quite surprising:

The back-to-back home runs mark the first time the Tigers have hit back-to-back home runs in a postseason game!

Delmon Young's three home runs during this series mark the most ever by a Tigers player in a single post-season series.

Young continues his campaign to win Dave Dombrowski MLB's Executive of the Year award.

KEY STAT B

The Tigers are only the 3rd team to beat the Yankees in 2 straight post season series.

Being Yankee Killers feels damn good, doesn't it?

KEY PLAY A

Don Kelly and Delmon Young with back-to-back jacks in the top of the 1st inning. The Tigers had to get off to a fast start, and the number 2 and 3 hitters came through in a big, big way.

KEY PLAY B

Doug Fister pitches out of 1 out, bases loaded jam in 4th by inducing pop outs from Russell Martin and Brett Gardner. This was HUGE.

KEY PLAY C

Alex Rodriguez striking out with the bases loaded in the 7th and as the final out in the 9th. Seeing A-Rod flail away while the boos rain down...good times, good times.

KEY INJURY

Young took the field for the bottom of the 7th...then had to leave the game, clutching his left side. Jason Beck reports it was a mild left oblique strain, suffering the injury during his at bat in the previous half inning. Ryan Raburn took his place for the last 2 innings.

KEY THOUGHTS

TBS made the Tigers deciding not to use Justin Verlander in relief tonight to be their death knell during the pre-game. Doug Fister's performance made the entire silly discussion moot. (FYI: We will not be subjected to the awful TBS broadcast from here on out, as FOX will cover the ALCS) Fister was clutch, pitching out of a couple of jams, and ultimately held the heavy hitting Yankees lineup in check.

Fister's final, winning line: 5 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 SO. I'll take that from my starter in a road elimination game.

Fister was gassed after 5, so we saw Max Scherzer come out of the pen in the 6th. Not Verlander, as the media wanted, but not exactly chopped liver, either.

Scherzer cruised thru an uneventful 6th, but was pulled with 1 out in the 7th after Derek Jeter's infield single...a play Brandon Inge, who had entered the game at 3rd base as a defensive replacement, was more than a little hesitant. Instead of cutting off Jeter's roller, he let it go thru to Jhonny Peralta, a much tougher play. It was more than enough time to allow God's gift to the NYC media to beat it out.

Then came the luckiest 1 run rally you'll ever see. Joaquin Benoit replaced Scherzer. Joe Girardi bitched about a band-aid on Benoit's face. Umps made Benoit remove it. Bandage-gate!

With Girardi's BS mind games out of the way, Curtis Granderson blooped a single to right, for some reason Jeter stopped at 2nd. Robinson Cano squibbed a grounder under Benoit's glove (Benoit was looking to make a play before he actually had the ball.), loading the bases. After Rodriguez came thru in the clutch became the 2nd out on a swinging K, Benoit walked Mark Teixeira, forcing in Jeter. A Nick Swisher strike out got the Tigers out of the inning with as little damage as possible. But damn, there was far too much self-inflicted drama.

There was more drama in the 8th. Jeter just missed a 2 run home run, Kelly flagged his fly ball down just short of the right field porch,. But remember, the same ball is a can of corn in a stadium not the size of the Little League field in Williamsport...like, lets say, Comerica Park.

But there was to be no drama from Jose Valverde. After trying kill us by allowing base runners galore in 2 previeous appearances, the Big Potato sent the middle of the Yankees' vaunted lineup packing. Papa Grande induced Granderson to pop up to left, Cano went down on a broken bat fly to center, and of course, A-Rod flailed helplessly at a 94 MPH fastball to end the game.

And with the final out, TBS' Yankees narrative went down in flames.

Papa said it was over after game 2. He was right. The Tigers advance to the ALCS! It was far from easy, and unbelievably tense, but Valverde backed up his words with actions.

The post -game question from much of the media will be, "Did Joe Girardi panic?" He enedd up burning thru 7 pitchers, channeling his inner Captain Hook. The way he was yanking arms, I swear he was down to Whitey Ford and Catfish Hunter mid-game.

Reportedly, Ivan Nova had to leave with tightness in his forearm. But he was quite hittable as well, and Gerardi knew it, pulling his starter after all of 2 innings.

In the "Ace should relieve" meme, the Yankees used CC Sabathia in the 5th, much to TBS' pleasure. With the big man on the mound, Victor Martinez lined a single to center, scoring Austin Jackson. It was a massively important run, ultimately the game winner.

You have to credit Jim Leyland. He now has his ace ready to go for game 1 of the ALCS by not burning him up tonight. A key decision which will pay off down the line. Instead of Verlander, he used Scherzer as the bridge to Benoit and Valverde.

And Don Kelly? Who saw his great series coming? Apparently, Leyland did, as Kelly hit .364.

So the Tigers advance, much in thanks to Jim Leyland sticking to his guns. Did I agree with every call? Hell, no. Bunting is the tool of the devil. But Leyland trusted his lineup, put his players in a position to produce, and they did. Most importantly of all, he refused to panic...unlike his counterpart. In the battle of managers, give the victory to Leyland.

Enjoy the next day and a half, folks. The stress ratchets up a level in the next round...but the Tigers are going to the next round, which is all that matters!