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Back to the Bronx: Yankees force Game 5

Oct 5, 2011 - 4:59 AM Detroit, MI (Sports Network) - Curtis Granderson made a pair of sparkling catches in center field and the New York Yankees exploded for six runs in the eighth inning to beat the Detroit Tigers, 10-1, to push their American League Division Series to a decisive contest.

With the Yankees teetering on being eliminated from the playoffs, the two-time All-Star made a leaping catch to turn back a bases-loaded rally in the opening inning and made an even more impressive diving grab to likely save a run from scoring in the sixth.

The Yankees also brought out the lumber Tuesday, piling up 13 hits, including Derek Jeter's two-run double in the third and seven singles during the eighth inning.

All roads now lead to Yankee Stadium for Game 5 Thursday night with the winner to meet the Texas Rangers in the ALCS.

A.J. Burnett (1-0) allowed four hits, including a homer to Victor Martinez, and had four walks and three strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings.

"I was proud of what he did," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "In a must-win situation for us, he pitched one of his best games of the year."

Rick Porcello (0-1) gave up five hits and four runs over six innings.

Ivan Nova will pitch for the Yankees in the series finale, while Doug Fister gets the ball for the Tigers. It's essentially a rematch from the opener, which resulted in a 9-3 New York win Saturday. Both came on as relievers after Game 1 began Friday, but was suspended after 1 1/2 innings.

Burnett walked three batters, one intentionally, to load the bases with two outs in the opening inning, but a leaping catch by Granderson kept the game scoreless. Don Kelly lined a ball to deep center. Granderson initially started in, but then raced back and stretched his glove over his head to make the grab falling to the ground.

"I think the key out in the game happened in the very first inning," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "If that would have gotten over his head and fallen down it might have been an inside-the-park home run. So that was a huge out right off the bat."

Granderson's defense also played a big part later in the contest, but he said the first inning grab was gigantic.

"Who knows what could have happened at that point," Granderson said. "If we get behind in an elimination game here in Detroit, the fans stay in it, the fans get more into it. Now, everything is staying neutral and we were able to go ahead and keep it right where we wanted to."

The Tigers, who beat the Yankees in four games in the 2006 ALDS, took the series lead behind Justin Verlander in a 5-4 win Monday at Comerica Park. But one night later they totaled just four hits.

"Once that first inning was over after Curtis saved me, I was able to take a breath, and then our offense took over," Burnett said.

Down 4-1, the Tigers had an opportunity to chip away at the deficit in the sixth. Kelly singled to right with two outs. Rafael Soriano then replaced Burnett, but Jhonny Peralta hit his first pitch to the gap in left-center field.

Granderson, an ex-Tiger known more for his offense, an AL-best 119 RBI during the regular season along with 41 homers, showed off his great speed and glove work. What looked like a sure extra-base hit became the final out because Granderson raced at full speed and extended his body to the max to make the incredible diving catch.

Burnett threw 14 of his 21 pitches in the first inning for balls, but then settled down over the next couple of frames with just a total of five balls between the second and third.

Meanwhile, the Yankees went ahead in the third. Home plate umpire Dan Iassogna ruled Jorge Posada was grazed by a pitch, but replays seemed to show otherwise. Russell Martin grounded a single up the middle, and one out later Jeter smacked a hit to the wall past a racing Austin Jackson in center field. Posada scored easily and Martin barely beat the relay throw home, using his left hand to touch the plate before Alex Avila could apply the tag.

Martinez homered on a 3-1 pitch to start the bottom of the fourth. Peralta doubled to left with one out, and went to third on a wild pitch when Martin couldn't locate the ball near him with two outs. Burnett, though, fanned Wilson Betemit to end the inning.

The Yankees expanded their lead to 4-1 in the fifth. Martin and Brett Gardner singled to start the inning. Porcello alertly threw to third on Jeter's bunt to get the force out, but Granderson then doubled off the base of the wall in right field. Robinson Cano was intentionally walked to fill the bases for the AL East victors, and Alex Rodriguez lifted a sacrifice fly to center.

The Tigers used four pitchers in a disastrous eighth inning. Al Alburquerque relieved Phil Coke with the bases full and nobody out after consecutive singles from Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher. Alburquerque balked to force in a run and pinch-hitter Jesus Montero singled to left for a 6-1 difference.

After Martin walked, Daniel Schlereth failed to stop the rally, as Gardner laced an RBI single to center. A wild pitch plated another run, and with two down Cano capped the outburst with a two-run single. Ryan Perry was called upon to finish the inning on the mound for the AL Central champions.

Game Notes

The Yankees are 1-4 in ALDS series when falling behind 2-games-to-1, with the lone win coming in 2001 vs. Oakland...Burnett has lost just one of his last six starts against Detroit since the start of the 2008 season...After going 3-for-24 with men in scoring position over the first three games, the Yankees went 6-for-14 on Tuesday.

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  • craftmafia Here we go Yankees!!

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  • Curtis Granderson double to right scored Brett Gardner with one out. On the play, Derek Jeter advanced to third. Runners on second and third and Robinson Cano due up.

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