Detroit turns back Yankees
Posted: Friday, October 7, 2011 7:02 pm
By RONALD BLUM
AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Jose Valverde powered the final pitch past Alex Rodriguez, crouched and then exhaled.
As did the Detroit Tigers, and their fans everywhere.
Don Kelly and Delmon Young hit back-to-back homers in the first inning, then Doug Fister and three relievers spent a tense night trying to protect the lead. They held off the high-powered Yankees — barely — and beat New York 3-2 Thursday in the deciding Game 5 of their AL playoff series.
“It was a gutsy win, especially with all the opportunities they had,” Kelly said.
The victory sent the Tigers to the AL championship series for the first time since 2006, the year they also eliminated the Yankees in the first round. Game 1 is Saturday night at Texas.
It was a thriller, with the outcome seeming to teeter on every pitch thrown by the Tigers.
Fister escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the fourth. Grimacing and breathing hard, Joaquin Benoit walked Mark Teixeira to force home the Yankees’ second run before striking out Nick Swisher with the bases loaded to end the seventh.
There were more gasps from a new Yankee Stadium record crowd of 50,960 — and yes, both benches, too — in the eighth when Derek Jeter hit an inning-ending flyout to Kelly just in front of the right-field wall with a man on.
Valverde finished with the only 1-2-3 inning for Detroit after the first, getting his second save of the series and remaining perfect in 51 chances this year. It was Valverde’s only perfect inning of the postseason.
“You never know until the last inning when you get that 27th out,” he said.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland and his team got it, eventually.
“The Yankees are so good that I would be lying if I said it didn’t give me a little extra satisfaction to be able to do it here in the fifth game,” Leyland said. “This will be a game I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
Published in The Messenger 10.7.11