By NOAH TRISTER
DETROIT — Prince Fielder waved his arms frantically, gleefully calling off his teammates while the crowd at Comerica Park roared.
From the moment the big first baseman signed his massive contract in January, an entire city had been waiting for a chance to celebrate like this. After another dazzling effort by Detroit’s starting pitchers and another soaring home run by Miguel Cabrera, Fielder caught the final out to send the Tigers to the World Series — with a sweep of the New York Yankees, no less.
“There’s still a long way to go but this is an awesome feeling,” Fielder said.
Max Scherzer capped a stupendous stretch for Detroit’s rotation, and the Tigers won their second pennant in seven years by beating the Yankees 8-1 Thursday for a four-game sweep of the AL championship series.
Cabrera and Jhonny Peralta hit two-run homers in a four-run fourth inning against CC Sabathia, who was unable to prevent the Yankees from getting swept in a postseason series for the first time in 32 years.
“Yeah, we did it,” Cabrera said. “It’s an unbelievable feeling. … Four more wins, guys. Four more wins.”
Scherzer took a no-hit bid into the sixth against a starting lineup that was again without Alex Rodriguez, who flied out with two on in the sixth as a pinch hitter.
Austin Jackson added a solo shot in the seventh for Detroit, and Peralta hit another homer an inning later.
The game ended with Fielder, Detroit’s $214 million acquisition, catching Jayson Nix’s popup. The Tigers spilled onto the field for a celebration that began near second base and eventually moved closer to the third-base line.
General manager Dave Dombrowski hugged Jim Leyland — who is in the final year of his contract — while owner Mike Ilitch rubbed the 67-year-old manager’s right shoulder.
“I’ve got a great bunch. We don’t have one hot dog in the bunch,” the pizza magnate said. “They’re all great guys. … The Tigers are something special.”
… The Tigers are something special.”
Detroit won its 11th American League pennant and first since 2006. The Tigers have five days off before the World Series starts Wednesday at defending champion St. Louis or 2010 winner San Francisco.
After scoring in just three of 39 innings during the series, New York headed home to face unpleasant questions about its future following a postseason of awful hitting, benched stars and veterans showing the wear and tear of age. Rodriguez, the $275 million third baseman, was out of the starting lineup for the third time in the playoffs. Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera could only watch following season-ending injuries.
The Yankees, with a big league-high $222 million payroll, hit .188 in the postseason — a record low for a team that played at least seven games — and .157 in the LCS. New York went quietly in the ninth inning, with the Comerica crowd chanting “Sweep!” while the last three batters were retired in order.
Detroit outhit New York 16-2 in the finale and 46-22 in the series. The Tigers’ starters are 4-1 with a 1.02 ERA in this postseason.
Without a World Series title since 1984, Detroit lost to Texas in last year’s ALCS, lost slugger Victor Martinez to a season-ending knee injury in January and quickly replaced his offense by signing Fielder. The excitement of that bold acquisition subsided a bit when the Tigers struggled to a 26-32 start in the AL Central, but they overtook the Chicago White Sox in the final 10 days of the regular season and won the division with an 88-74 record, matching the Cardinals for the fewest wins among the 10 playoff teams.
“I just reminded everybody when we took our punches all year, ‘You know what? Let’s just wait till the end, and then if we have underachieved, I will be the first one to admit it,’” Leyland said. “So hopefully we’ve quieted some doubters now. The guys just stepped it up when we had to. We caught a couple breaks when the White Sox couldn’t win a couple of games they needed to win.”
In the postseason, Detroit’s rotation has been impeccable. Scherzer, Justin Verlander, Anibal Sanchez and Doug Fister allowed only two earned runs against the Yankees. New York was shut out once and totaled six runs in the series.
“Unbelievable. It’s why we’re here right now because our pitching,” Cabrera said. “Wow!”
Scherzer allowed a run and two hits in 5 2-3 innings in the finale, struck out 10 and walked two.
“I really had my changeup and my slider going,” he said. “When I can combine that with my fastball, that’s what makes me effective.”
The Yankees, without a World Series title since 2009, lost Jeter to a broken ankle in the opening game, and the slumping Rodriguez was benched for Game 3. He was out of the starting lineup for Game 4 too, but A-Rod did have one last chance to turn his postseason around when Scherzer was lifted for left-hander Drew Smyly with two outs in the sixth and the Tigers up 6-1.
As Smyly finished warming up, Rodriguez popped out of the dugout to hit for Raul Ibanez, but with runners at the corners, he hit a routine fly to center field. He grounded out in the ninth, completing a 3 for 25 (.125) playoffs with no RBIs.
New York owes the 37-year-old Rodriguez $114 million over the next five years. His contract includes a provision that requires he approves trades, and he wants to stay.
“I love New York City and I love everything about being a Yankee,” he said. “The highs are very high and the lows are extremely low.”
The Yankees failed to win a game in a postseason series for only the fifth time. They hadn’t been swept since a best-of-five ALCS against Kansas City in 1980. The last team to sweep four straight against them had been Cincinnati in the 1976 World Series.
Detroit also beat New York in the division series in 2006 and last year. The Tigers became the first team to win three straight postseason series against the Yankees, according to STATS LLC.
“They threw the ball really well,” Rodriguez said. “They outplayed us in every facet of the game and they were the better team.”
New York never led in this series — the only other time that’s happened to the Yankees was when they were swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1963 World Series. The only other team to sweep an LCS without trailing at any point was the 1984 Tigers, who won three straight against Kansas City, STATS said.
After a rainout Wednesday, Game 4 started under a sunny sky, and Detroit immediately took the lead on series MVP Delmon Young’s RBI single. Young became the first player with four game-winning RBIs in one postseason series, STATS said.
Avisail Garcia drove in an unearned run in the third with a single before the Tigers broke it open in the fourth. Cabrera, the first Triple Crown winner in 45 years, made it 4-0 with a towering drive to left field. Peralta drove in two more runs with his shot to the same part of the ballpark.
After Andy Dirks doubled, Sabathia was pulled. He allowed five earned runs and 11 hits in 3 2-3 innings.
“It’s embarrassing to me,” Sabathia said.
When the fourth inning finally ended, the crowd at Comerica gave the Tigers a standing ovation, sensing that an even bigger celebration wasn’t too far off.
Scherzer made sure of that. The right-hander was terrific down the stretch for the Tigers before his throwing shoulder acted up near the end of the regular season. He made it through 5 1-3 innings in the division series against Oakland without allowing an earned run, then kept the Yankees off the scoreboard until Eduardo Nunez tripled in the sixth for New York’s first hit and scored on Nick Swisher’s double.
“They’re a good team with dominant pitching. Give those guys credit — they pitched great,” Sabathia said. “And we didn’t match them. We pitched good, but not great. They pitched great.”
Swisher, likely playing his last game with the Yankees, was 1 for 35 with runners in scoring position in his postseason career before that hit. He struck out with two on and two outs in the third.
About the only thing the Yankees had done well in this postseason was pitch, and Sabathia failed to keep that going. He didn’t have much help from his defense. Teixeira, a four-time Gold Glove winner at first base, misplayed two grounders in the third — one for an infield hit and one for an error.
New York’s hitting was abysmal throughout the playoffs. Robinson Cano was at .075 (3 for 40) with no home runs, including a 29 at-bat hitless streak. Curtis Granderson was 3 for 30 with 16 strikeouts, Nick Swisher hit .167 (5 for 30) with two RBIs, Russell Martin hit .161 (5 for 31) with one RBI and Eric Chavez finished 0 for 16 with eight strikeouts.
“It wasn’t one guy. It wasn’t two guys,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “It was a bunch of guys.”
(Best-of-7; x-if necessary)
Detroit 4, New York 0
Saturday: Detroit 6, New York 4, 12 innings
Sunday: Detroit 3, New York 0
Tuesday: Detroit 2, New York 1
Wednesday: New York at Detroit, ppd., rain
Thursday: Detroit 8, New York 1
Tigers 8, Yankees 1
New York AB R H BI BB SO Avg.
I.Suzuki lf 3 0 0 0 1 1 .353
Swisher rf 4 0 1 1 0 2 .250
Cano 2b 4 0 0 0 0 1 .056
Teixeira 1b 3 0 0 0 1 1 .200
Ibanez dh 2 0 0 0 0 2 .231
a-Al.Rodriguez ph-dh 2 0 0 0 0 0 .111
Er.Chavez 3b 2 0 0 0 0 2 .000
b-J.Nix ph-3b 1 0 0 0 1 0 .000
R.Martin c 2 0 0 0 0 1 .143
c-Granderson ph-cf 1 0 0 0 0 1 .000
Gardner cf 3 0 0 0 0 1 .000
C.Stewart c 0 0 0 0 0 0 —-
E.Nunez ss 3 1 1 0 0 0 .333
Totals 30 1 2 1 3 12
Detroit AB R H BI BB SO Avg.
A.Jackson cf 4 1 2 1 1 1 .353
Infante 2b 5 2 2 0 0 0 .222
Mi.Cabrera 3b 5 1 1 2 0 0 .313
Fielder 1b 5 1 2 0 0 1 .235
D.Young dh 4 1 2 1 1 0 .353
Jh.Peralta ss 5 2 2 3 0 1 .389
Dirks lf 5 0 3 0 0 1 .222
A.Garcia rf 5 0 2 1 0 0 .455
G.Laird c 4 0 0 0 0 0 .125
Totals 42 8 16 8 2 4
New York 000 001 000—1 2 2
Detroit 101 400 11x—8 16 1
b-walked for Er.Chavez in the 7th. c-struck out for R.Martin in the 7th.
E_Teixeira (1), E.Nunez (1), Fielder (1). LOB_New York 5, Detroit 12. 2B_Swisher (2), Dirks (1), A.Garcia (1). 3B_E.Nunez (1). HR_Mi.Cabrera (1), off Sabathia; Jh.Peralta (1), off Sabathia; A.Jackson (1), off D.Lowe; Jh.Peralta (2), off D.Robertson. RBIs_Swisher (1), A.Jackson (1), Mi.Cabrera 2 (4), D.Young (6), Jh.Peralta 3 (3), A.Garcia (3). SB_E.Nunez (1), A.Garcia (1).
Runners left in scoring position_New York 2 (Swisher, Al.Rodriguez); Detroit 8 (Jh.Peralta, Infante, G.Laird 4, A.Garcia, Fielder). RISP_New York 1 for 5; Detroit 2 for 10.
Runners moved up_Cano.
New York IP H R ER BB SO NP ERA
Sabathia L, 0-1 3 2-3 11 6 5 2 3 93 12.27
Eppley 1 1 0 0 0 0 22 0.00
Rapada 1-3 0 0 0 0 0 2 0.00
Chamberlain 1 2 0 0 0 0 23 0.00
D.Lowe 1 1 1 1 0 0 13 16.20
D.Robertson 1 1 1 1 0 1 14 4.50
Detroit IP H R ER BB SO NP ERA
Scherzer W, 1-0 5 2-3 2 1 1 2 10 98 1.59
Smyly 1-3 0 0 0 0 0 4 0.00
Dotel 1 0 0 0 1 2 17 0.00
Coke 2 0 0 0 0 0 25 0.00
Inherited runners-scored_Eppley 1-0, Rapada 2-0, Smyly 2-0.
Umpires_Home, Jeff Nelson; First, Gary Cederstrom; Second, Mike Winters; Third, Jeff Kellogg; Right, Sam Holbrook; Left, Rob Drake.
T_3:27. A_42,477 (41,255).
How the Tigers won
Tigers first. A.Jackson popped out to second baseman Cano. Infante infield single to third. Mi.Cabrera flied out to left fielder I.Suzuki. Fielder singled to center, Infante to third. D.Young singled to right, Infante scored, Fielder to second. Jh.Peralta struck out.1 run, 3 hits, 0 errors, 2 left on. Tigers 1, Yankees 0.
Tigers third. Mi.Cabrera flied out to right fielder Swisher. Fielder infield single to first. D.Young walked on a full count, Fielder to second. Jh.Peralta flied out to left fielder I.Suzuki. Dirks safe at first on Teixeira’s error, Fielder to third, D.Young to second. A.Garcia infield single to shortstop, Fielder scored, D.Young to third, Dirks to second. G.Laird flied out to right fielder Swisher.
1 run, 2 hits, 1 error, 3 left on. Tigers 2, Yankees 0.
Tigers fourth. A.Jackson struck out. Infante singled to center. Mi.Cabrera homered to left on a 0-0 count, Infante scored. Fielder struck out. D.Young singled to left. Jh.Peralta homered to left on a 0-0 count, D.Young scored. Dirks doubled to center. Eppley pitching. A.Garcia grounded out, shortstop Nunez to first baseman Teixeira.
4 runs, 5 hits, 0 errors, 1 left on. Tigers 6, Yankees 0.
Yankees sixth. Nunez tripled to center. I.Suzuki struck out. Swisher doubled to center, Nunez scored. Cano grounded out to first baseman Fielder, Swisher to third. Teixeira walked. Smyly pitching. Al.Rodriguez pinch-hitting for Ibanez. Al.Rodriguez flied out to center fielder A.Jackson.
1 run, 2 hits, 0 errors, 2 left on. Tigers 6, Yankees 1.
Tigers seventh. J.Nix in as third baseman. Granderson in as center fielder. C.Stewart in as catcher. D.Lowe pitching. A.Jackson homered to left on a 1-0 count. Infante grounded out, third baseman J.Nix to first baseman Teixeira. Mi.Cabrera flied out to right fielder Swisher. Fielder grounded out, third baseman J.Nix to first baseman Teixeira.
1 run, 1 hit, 0 errors, 0 left on. Tigers 7, Yankees 1.
Tigers eighth. D.Robertson pitching. D.Young grounded out, second baseman Cano to first baseman Teixeira. Jh.Peralta homered to left on a 0-1 count. Dirks struck out. A.Garcia lined out to center fielder Granderson.
1 run, 1 hit, 0 errors, 0 left on. Tigers 8, Yankees 1.