Thursday, October 18, 2012

Tigers Sweep Yankees, Win 11th AL Pennant

The Tigers dominated the Yankees 8-1 today to complete a sweep of the 2012 American League Championship Series.  Yes, they swept the New York Yankees.  Not too many teams can say that.  In fact, it has happened only four times and this was the first since 1976 when the Big Red Machine swept through the World Series. 

This post-season has been all about starting pitching and today the Tigers got another great performance from right hander Max Scherzer.  Scherzer pitched no-hit ball for five innings before allowing a triple to shortstop Eduardo Nunez leading off the sixth.  He allowed just one run on two hits and struck out 10 in 5 2/3 innings.

The Tigers starting rotation of Justin Verlander, Doug Fister, Anibal Sanchez and Scherzer has been absolutely incredible in the post-season not allowing more than two runs in any game.  In all, they have allowed 7 earned runs in 62 innings for an amazing 1.02 ERA.  And it's no fluke.  They have an 0.87 WHIP, 66/19 K/BB ratio and have allowed just three homers. 

Detroit had not shown a lot of offense this post-season, but today they broke loose for 16 hits including four home runs (matching their total for the other eight playoff games combined).  Jhonny Peralta had two of them as he continued his tremendous playoff run.  Peralta is batting .343/.378/.543 for the playoffs and is playing his best defense of the year.

Delmon Young was awarded the series MVP for his .353/.421/.765 line.  He also had the go ahead RBI in each of the four games of the series. The real MVP was the starting rotation, but each pitcher just pitched one game and you can't very well have four MVPs. So, Young was a reasonable choice. 

I was also impressed with Young's honesty and self awareness in the post-game interview.  When asked why he hit so well in the playoffs the last two seasons, he said he had "no clue" and added that he needs to figure out how to do it in the regular season as well.  He's smarter than we think.

The other surprise hero of the series was left hander Phil Coke who closed out his third straight game by retiring the last six batters in a row.  It wasn't a save situation, but an impressive job nevertheless.  The Tigers desperately needed a closer to replace the badly struggling Jose Valverde and Coke has filled the role nicely thus far.

The biggest story of all, of course, is that the Tigers have won their 11th pennant and the storied Yankees were their victim.  The Bronx Bombers may have 27 world championships and 40 pennants, but not once have they beaten the Tigers in a post-season series.

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