For the second straight game, a pitcher considered by many fans and members of the media to be too emotionally fragile to win a pressure game against a powerful line-up stopped the Yankees cold. Last night it was Kenny Rogers. Today it was Jeremy Bonderman. Perhaps fans don't know their players as much as they think they do! Bonderman allowed just 2 runs on 5 hits in 8 1/3 innings as the Tigers crushed the Yankees 8-3 and took the series from the Yankees 3 games to 1.
In my series preview, I had predicted that the Tigers would win the series because of superior pitching but never in my wildest dreams did I think that they would win so convincingly. At one point, they held "the best line-up ever assembled" scoreless for 20 straight innings. In the last two games, the Yankees actually looked overmatched. Beating the Yankees is one thing. Completely shutting them down is something else.
Just like the regular season, the Tigers primary strength in this series was pitching but they also did some hitting. And just as in the regular season, the leading hitter was the starting shortstop. Carlos Guillen had 3 more hits today to give him 3 straight multiple hit games. For the series, Guillen went 8 for 14 with 2 walks, 3 doubles and a homer. This stacks up quite well against MVP candidate Derek Jeter who went 8 for 16 with 1 walk, 4 doubles and a homer. This comes to no surprise to Tiger fans who know that the two shortstops have been statistically similary all year long.
The post-game celebration was a unique and down to earth affair that may very well change the way baseball teams celebrate for years to come. After carrying Jim Leyland off the field and briefly celebrating privately in the clubhouse, they brought the party to the fans. They shook hands with fans and even doused some of them with champagne. They will likely be accused by some of over celebrating a first round playoff victory but I thought it was well done and warranted. After years of frustration, this series was a tremendous release for fans and the city of Detroit. I think the celebration was pefectly appropriate.