Tigers Win 5-4 in Nailbiter
The Tigers are now one game away from clinching the ALDS after a heart-racing finish in their 5-4 win over the New York Yankees.
After Sunday night's win in New York, Detroit closer Jose Valverde assured that the series would not be returning to the Big Apple. And in a tense 9th inning, his guarantee was put to the test.
Monday night's game was all about the pitching. CC Sabathia and Justin Verlander were able to finish what they started in Game 1, before the rain washed them away.
This time, pitching wasn't always perfect, but Verlander got the job done in eight tough innings. The Tiger ace struck out 11 batters and threw 120 pitches.
Meanwhile, the Yankees retired Sabathia in the 6th, during a Tigers rout that only resulted in one run but tired out the Yankee pitcher, who was already over 100 pitches at that point in the game.
Verlander got off to a tough start, with Jeter singling off of his first pitch, following by a Granderson triple that brought Jeter home. Granderson then scored on Rodriguez's ground out.
In the 3rd inning, it was Brandon Inge who got the ball rolling for the Tigers. His double at the top of the inning would have blown the roof off of Comerica Park if it had a roof.
The fans really began to roar when Jackson was walked on a full count, followed by Santiago's single that brought Inge home. Miguel Cabrera grounded out for a double play, but the Tigers still scored with Santiago running home.
With the score tied 2-2, Inge did what he needed to do again in the bottom of the 5th, singling to center. He was brought home on a Santiago double.
The Tigers would only score one run that inning, but their tireless effort got the best of Sabathia, who was pulled from the game in the 6th after the Tigers scored again.
After his rough start, Justin Verlander held off the Yankees until the 7th inning, striking out batters left and right. The Yankees had two outs at the top of the 7th and Verlander had Posada down 0-2 in the count.
But then things took a bit of a turn. Verlander ended up walking Posada, and then Martin was hit by a pitch to advance Posada to second base. Gardner got a double, bringing home Posada and Martin, tying the game 4-4. Verlander then struck out Jeter to end the inning.
The Tigers needed a run, and they got it off the bat of Delmon Young, who got a solo home run to right field on an 0-0 count.
It would be the last run scored in the game, and the Tigers were six outs away from being on top 2-1 in the series.
Justin Verlander came back to pitch the 8th inning, getting his 11th strikeout on Cano and securing the final out on a pop-up to Inge.
Valverde hopped out of the bullpen to pitch the 9th inning, and boy did he keep things interesting. Despite his perfect save record, Valverde sure knows how to make things tense for Tigers fans.
After Swisher fouled out to Inge, Valverde walked Posada on a full count. Martin filed out to right field, and after pinch-runner Nunez stole second, Valverde walked Gardner on four pitches.
With two outs, two Yankees on base and Derek Jeter stepping up to the plate, the crowd was a mix of tense silence and cheers for Papa Verde.
He's put us in this situation before. And he's pulled it out for us. But there was still a mix of fear and elation in the final out of the game.
And with a swing and a miss by Jeter, Valverde let us all catch our breath again. Comerica Park exploded with cheers for their Tigers, for Verlander, and for Papa Grande, whose guarantee after Game 2 is closer to becoming a reality.
The Tigers will face off against the Yankees again tonight in Game 4 at the CoPa. There's no doubt that the Tigers hope to end things right here, right now, just like they did back in 2006.
Here's hoping history repeats itself - and that the Tigers fans can cash in on Valverde's promise.