When a series like this is covered on a site devoted to one of the teams contending in the series, it is easy to get wrapped up in the “failures” of the team that is covered. The flip side here is that the Tigers and their pitching in particular were spectacular in the series and did not make a single misstep the entire series. From Jim Leyland to each starting pitcher and the Tigers’ bullpen (outside of Valverde) to the offense, the Tigers dominated the series and outscored the Yankees, nineteen to six. Was it a total failure of the Yankees’ lineup or a total achievement of the Tigers’ pitching staff? Gosh, that depends on which side you are looking from. A metaphor of the entire series happened in the top of the third inning with the Yankees only down by a run at that point.
Eduardo Nunez came up with two outs and hit a spinning top to Prince Fielder. Fielder could not handle the ball and Nunez was safe. He stole second and then Ichiro Suzuki walked. Nick Swisher was up next and got ahead in the count, 2-1. It was then that Scherzer made two absolute perfect pitches. The first one hit inside corner at the bottom of the strike zone. Scherzer then made a perfect strike three pitch on the outside corner snapping that black at 94 MPH. That was the kind of pitching the Tigers performed the entire series. And in a post season series that is a crap shoot to begin with, when a pitching staff can get that hot and execute that completely, the fifth best team in the American League can go to the World Series.
As for the Yankees, they simply were never a factor in this series. From the top of the ninth of the first game when they tied the score at four, they were out-played and could never muster any kind of threat. The one thing they had going for them in the series was pitching and even that fell down today. Sabathia simply did not have his best stuff today. His fastball averaged only 91.44 MPH. When he got to two strikes, he had trouble putting batters away and his breaking ball would not go where he wanted it to go.
One of Sabathia’s runs was unearned as Mark Teixeira uncharacteristically made two errors in the bottom of the third on two ground balls. He was only credited with one error, but the official scorer was generous on one of them. But those four runs in the bottom of the fourth were definitely earned. With one out, Omar Infante singled. Sabathia tried to get his first pitch in to Miguel Cabrera and he did not quite get the pitch quite in enough and Cabrera crushed it. After that homer, Sabathia struck out Prince Fielder but then allowed a single to Delmon Young. Sabathia then hung a curve or something off speed to Jonny Peralta and he too crushed a two-run homer. Derek Lowe and David Robertson also allowed solo homers later in the game, but the fourth inning pretty much ended the Yankees’ season.
Nick Swisher did break his 1-34 with RISP post season streak when he hit a double following a triple by Nunez to score the Yankees’ only run. Those were also the only two hits the Yankees registered.
After this series, there will be all kinds of words written about what went wrong and what needs to happen with the Yankees after this series. But for this night, it is a time to tip the cap to the Detroit Tigers and wish them luck in the World Series. They earned the right to be there by outperforming the Yankees in every aspect of the game. For Yankee fans, it’s time to hope for next year and start the long winter without Yankees baseball.