DETROIT - The Detroit Tigers took a rather turbulent flight to their destination but they finally got to where a number of people believed they would be when the Major League Baseball season started.
The Tigers are in the World Series.
They had their feet on the necks of the New York Yankees going into Game 4 of the American League Championship Series with a 3-0 lead and they weren’t about to take it off.
The Tigers swept the Yankees in the best-of-seven series, taking them and their ace, CC Sabathia, down 8-1 Thursday in Detroit.
The Tigers took Sabathia and the Yankees pitchers who followed him down in a big way.
The Tigers pounded 16 hits and four home runs including a Miguel Cabrera bomb and two homers from Jhonny Peralta.
Detroit got to Sabathia early, who was pulled after surrendering four runs in the fourth inning and leaving the Yankees behind 6-0.
While the Tigers offence took care of Sabathia, their pitching, once again, took care of the Yankees hitters with murderous efficiency.
Tigers starters have shut down the Yankees throughout the series, giving up two earned runs in four games over 61 2/3 innings. Along the way, they struck out 66, limited the Yankees to a .157 batting average and finished with a 1.02 earned-run average. The Yankees only scored six runs in the ALCS sitting out and were forced to sit out players like Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher at various times.
Max Scherzer turned the trick for the Tigers on Thursday going 5 2/3, giving up two hits, a run and striking out 10.
“We did the best at the best time possible,” Peralta said. “Maybe we didn’t do everything so well during the season, but we did it when it was the best time.”
The Tigers were one of the early favourites to reach the World Series but their inconsistency almost caused them to miss the post-season. They played their best baseball in the playoffs while the Yankees fell apart. The result of the ALCS was only surprising because of the extreme nature of the thrashing. It was obvious, however, who the better team was.
“People are going to have their opinion but you don’t worry about it,” Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder said of the team’s ups and downs during the season. “We are a family and you represent your family.”
After the game, with the raucous celebration continuing in the stands Tigers reliever Phil Coke was holding court on the field.
“It’s a phenomenal team with great friendships,” Coke said. “Now we’re knocking on the door going to the World Series. It couldn’t be scripted any better.
“Next to getting married to my beautiful wife and having my beautiful daughter in July, this is up there.”
He then looked up in the stands where many of the 42,477 were still standing and cheering.
“These are a bunch of hard-working people, blue collar folks. They break their rear ends off,” he said. “It’s hard to go to work all day and not have a lot of look forward at the end of the day and I hope we’re doing a little something for them and giving back to them.”
The last time the Tigers were in the World Series they lost in five games to the St. Louis Cardinals. The Tigers last won it in 1984 when they beat the San Diego Padres in five games.
Delmon Young set a Tigers record for post-season home runs and was selected the ALCS most valuable player. He reflected the emotion of many of the Tigers in going to a World Series. Justin Verlander, Omar Infante and Ramon Santiago are the only three players who were with Detriot in 2006.
“As a child growing up, your dream is always winning Game 7 in the World Series with a walk-off hit,” Young said. “It’s fun knowing you get to go there, and especially my childhood dream was playing shortstop next to Chipper Jones, trying to beat the Yankees in the World Series.”
Coke put the focus back on what the Tigers really want to do.
“We have one more step man. We have one more step. We aren’t done. There’s a World Series to win,” he said.