The New York Yankees won the 2009 World Series after a decade of frustration. The Detroit Tigers provided some of that frustration in 2006 when they ousted the Yankees in the American League Division Series (ALDS). The Tigers repeated their success against New York in the 2011 ALDS. In 2012, the Bronx Bombers wanted vengeance, but never received any satisfaction. The Tigers dispatched New York in four straight games to win the pennant. Detroit’s pitching overwhelmed Yankee bats and held the New Yorkers to six runs in four games. However, closer Jose Valverde melted down leaving Detroit in a late inning lurch for the World Series.
The Tigers needed to use Justin Verlander twice to edge the Oakland A’s in the ALDS. Likewise, the Yankees needed to pitch C.C. Sabathia twice against the upstart Baltimore Orioles. As a result, Game One featured Doug Fister for the Tigers and Andy Pettite for the Yankees. Neither team scored until Detroit broke through for two in the sixth. The Tigers added two in the eighth including one on a home run by Delmon Young. The Tigers led 4-0 in the ninth when Yankee ghosts haunted Jose Valverde.
Tiger skipper Jim Leyland brought Valverde in to pitch the ninth in a non-save situation. Russell Martin singled and Ichiro Suzuki homered to cut the lead to 4-2. With two out, Mark Texeira fell behind 0-2 before working a walk. Then, Raul Ibanez homered to tie the game at 4. Valverde had a meltdown against the A’s in the ALDS, but the Tigers still won the series. He continued to struggle in the postseason putting the Tigers in extreme jeopardy. Meanwhile, the Yankees lost shortstop Derek Jeter when he broke his ankle on a freak play. The Tigers scored two in the twelfth with Delmon Young driving in his third run of the game. Drew Smyly got the 6-4 victory in relief and the Tigers took a hard fought 1-0 series lead.
Game Two proved as tight as Game One. Anibal Sanchez and Hiroki Kuroda matched scoreless innings for six frames. In fact, the first 15 Tigers went down in order and the team managed one hit through six. Detroit put runners on the corners with no one out in the seventh. Fielder struck out and Young hit a double play grounder, but second baseman Robinson Cano misplayed the ball allowing the Tigers to take a 1-0 lead. Kuroda escaped with only one run scoring, but controversy doomed New York in the eighth.
Kuroda struck out the first two Tigers in the eighth frame. Omar Infante singled and Austin Jackson followed with a hit to right. Right fielder Nick Swisher threw a strike to Cano who tagged Infante for the third out. However, umpire Jeff Nelson called Infante safe. Yankee manager Joe Girardi argued the call and was ejected. Avisail Garcia and Miguel Cabrera singled in the runners for a 3-0 Tiger lead. The Tigers abandoned Valverde and allowed Phil Coke to close the Yankees out for a 2-0 series lead.
The series moved to Motown for Game Three. Verlander and Phil Hughes toed the mound for each club. New York could not touch Verlander until the ninth when Eduardo Nunez homered for the Yankees. The run ended the Tigers stretch of 30.3 scoreless innings and 37 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run. Detroit held a 2-0 lead in the game at that point. Young homered earlier in the contest for his seventh career postseason homer as a Tiger. He is the franchise’s all-time leader in that category. In the end, Coke relieved a tired Verlander for his second save of the series and Detroit took a 3-0 lead.
The Yankees read the writing on the wall for Game 4 and did not show up. The Tigers rocked C.C. Sabathia, Max Scherzer had a no-hitter into the sixth, and Detroit blasted four home runs, including two by shortstop Jhonny Peralta. The Tigers won the game 8-1 and the series in a sweep. Delmon Young was named MVP with a .353 average, 2 home runs, and 6 RBI. New York hit .157, one home run, slugged .264, and posted a .488 OPS against the Tigers.
Everything went against the Yankees in the 2012 ALCS. The Tigers looked like a team of destiny in the series. Jeter broke his ankle, the umpires made mistakes benefiting Detroit, and Tiger pitching dominated the New York squad. Detroit completely dismantled New York and moved to the World Series. The only cause for concern was closer Jose Valverde and the long layoff in between series.