Yanks’ team effort gets ALDS back to Stadium
The Yankees couldn’t have asked for a better way to stay alive in the American League Division Series and get back to New York for the deciding game Thursday night. The 10-1 victory over the Tigers Tuesday night that squared the series at two games apiece was truly a team effort.
They got a big monkey off their back by winning a possible elimination postseason game for the first time since Game 5 of the ALDS in 2001 against Oakland. Their offense broke out with an attack featuring double digits in hits and runs, and they put on a defensive clinic in the field. The best part was that there were so many players who contributed.
Start with A.J. Burnett, who wasn’t even supposed to start in this series after a regular season in which he was 11-11 with a 5.15 ERA. A rain-forced suspension of Game 1 meant that Yankees manager Joe Girardi needed a fourth starter and he went with Burnett, who made up for a lot of disappointment this year with 5 2/3 innings marred only by a Victor Martinez home run.
Oh, A.J. had his scary moments, mainly in the first inning when he walked three batters. He was saved by Curtis Granderson’s lunging grab of a drive by Don Kelly as the Tigers left the bases loaded. Giradi had Cory Wade warming in the bullpen and might have pulled Burnett’s right there if Kelly’s blast had gotten past Granderson.
The center fielder made another run-saving play in the sixth when it was still a close game at 4-1 with a diving catch in left-center to rob Jhonny Peralta of a potential extra-base hit that would have scored at least one run. The AL Most Valuable Player Award candidate also doubled in a run in the top of the fifth.
Granderson was part of an ensemble lineup that banged out 13 hits, none over the fence as the Yankees enjoyed a game of sustained offense. Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira broke out of slumps with singles in the six-run eighth inning. Rodriguez, who was 0-for-12 before that, added a second hit that inning, which could be a sign he is ready to get hot. Nick Swisher also got a hit with a runner in scoring position for the first time in 29 career postseason at-bats.
Derek Jeter drove in two runs with a double that got the Yankees out in front in the third inning. Jorge Posada reached base by getting hit with a pitch and scored. Russell Martin singled twice and walked and scored two runs. Robinson Cano had two more RBI to raise his total in the series to eight. Jesus Montero came off the bench and got hits in his first two career postseason at-bats.
One night after giving up a game-winning home run, Rafael Soriano retired the four batters he faced, followed by Phil Hughes and Boone Logan each working a perfect inning as the bullpen set down the last 10 Detroit batters in order, six on strikeouts.
So the importance of the Yankees’ winning the home field advantage in the first two rounds of the playoffs will come into play Thursday night behind Ivan Nova, the Game 1 winner, against Doug Fister, the Game 1 loser, at Yankee Stadium, which is ready to rock the team into the AL Championship Series.