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Bring on the World Series

Tigers become just the fourth team to never trail while sweeping a four-game series


DETROIT (AP) ― 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 on Thursday for a four-game sweep of the AL 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.”
Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera celebrates after hitting a two-run home run in the fourth inning. (AP-Yonhap News)
Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera celebrates after hitting a two-run home run in the fourth inning. (AP-Yonhap News)

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 first baseman Prince Fielder, Detroit’s prized offseason acquisition, gleefully calling off his teammates on Jayson Nix’s popup and making the catch for the final out. The Tigers spilled onto the field for a celebration that began near second base and eventually moved closer to the third-base line.

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 after 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 after season-ending injuries.

The Yankees hit .188 in the postseason 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.

Without a World Series title since 1984, Detroit lost to Texas in last year’s ALCS but signed Fielder in the offseason. The excitement of that bold move subsided a bit when the Tigers struggled to a 26-32 start in the AL Central, but they overtook the Chicago White Sox in the final 10 days of the regular season and won the division with an 88-74 record, matching the Cardinals for the fewest wins among the 10 playoff teams. And in the postseason, their starting rotation has been impeccable.

Scherzer, Justin Verlander, Anibal Sanchez and Doug Fister allowed only two earned runs against the Yankees. New York was shut out once and totaled six runs in the series.

“Unbelievable. It’s why we’re here right now because of our pitching,” Cabrera said. “Wow!”

The Yankees lost Jeter to a broken ankle in the opening game, and the slumping Rodriguez was benched for Game 3. He was out of the starting lineup for Game 4 too, but A-Rod did have one last chance to turn his postseason around when Scherzer was lifted for left-hander Drew Smyly with two outs in the sixth and the Tigers up 6-1.

As Smyly finished warming up, Rodriguez popped out of the dugout to pinch hit for Raul Ibanez, but with men on first and third, he hit a routine fly to center field. He grounded out in the ninth, completing a postseason with no RBIs.

The Yankees failed to win a game in a postseason series for only the fifth time. They hadn’t been swept since a best-of-five ALCS against Kansas City in 1980. The last team to sweep four straight against them had been Cincinnati in the 1976 World Series.

Detroit also beat New York in the division series in 2006 and last year. The Tigers became the first team to win three straight postseason series against the Yankees, according to STATS, LLC.

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.

Wainwright boosts Cardinals

ST. LOUIS (AP) ― One more win and another bunch of wild-card Cardinals get their chance to repeat.

Adam Wainwright threw seven innings of four-hit ball and St. Louis roughed up Tim Lincecum and the San Francisco Giants in an 8-3 rout Thursday night that gave the Cardinals a 3-1 lead in the NL championship series.

The defending World Series champions can wrap up their second straight pennant as a wild card with a victory at home Friday night in Game 5. Lance Lynn faces Giants lefty Barry Zito, and a Cardinals win would set up a 2006 World Series rematch with Detroit.

Matt Holliday, Jon Jay and Yadier Molina had two RBIs apiece to lead a 12-hit outburst by a team that batted just .198 through the first three games against San Francisco.

“They had their backs against the wall against the Reds and won three in a row, so we’ve still got our work cut out for us and this series is by no means over,” Holliday said.

Lincecum was a bust in his first postseason start since the World Series clincher over Texas in 2010, giving up four runs in 4 2/3 innings.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner with the quirky delivery earned a shot based on nearly spotless relief work earlier in the postseason but reverted to regular-season form, when he was 10-15 with a 5.18 ERA, worst among qualifying starters in the National League.
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