for this game

Tigers hold off Yankees, advance to ALCS

Oct 7, 2011 - 5:38 AM Bronx, NY (Sports Network) - Cool, calm, and collected, the Detroit Tigers are advancing to the American League Championship Series.

The New York Yankees are heading into an offseason filled with questions.

Joaquin Benoit escaped a bases-loaded jam in the seventh inning with minimal damage and then came within a few feet of giving up a Derek Jeter go-ahead homer in the eighth, but the Tigers held on for a 3-2 win over the Yankees in the decisive fifth game of their American League Division Series.

Don Kelly and Delmon Young homered on consecutive pitches off Ivan Nova in the first inning and Victor Martinez singled in the eventual game-winner off CC Sabathia in the fifth.

"The Yankees are so good that I would be lying if I said it didn't give me a little extra satisfaction to be able to do it here in the fifth game. I don't mean that disrespectfully, I mean that respectfully," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.

Jose Valverde retired the side in order in the ninth for his second save of the series, ending it by fanning Alex Rodriguez. Valverde has saved all 51 of his save opportunities this year.

"I was just thinking about that short porch in the ninth inning with Granderson and Cano in particular, and of course A-Rod could spit it over that right field fence," Leyland said. "It wasn't an easy task. Valverde was tremendous."

The Tigers will face Texas Saturday night in the opener of the ALCS in Arlington. Justin Verlander will start Game 1 for Detroit against the Rangers' C.J. Wilson.

The Yankees, owners of an AL-best 97 regular season victories, were sent home early in the playoffs for a second straight year, losing to Texas in the ALCS in 2010.

"It's a really empty feeling," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "It's an empty feeling for everyone in that room. And it hurts. You just got to remember this feeling and we'll be determined next year."

Robinson Cano homered for the AL East champions, who were beaten by the Tigers in a first-round series for the second time in six years. Detroit won in four games in the 2006 ALDS, then swept Oakland before losing to St. Louis in the World Series.

Although Young set a franchise record with three home runs during the ALDS, the most-ever for a Tigers player in a single postseason series, his status is in question moving forward. Young departed the game prior to the bottom of the seventh inning due to a mild left oblique strain.

Rodriguez, who went hitless in four at-bats Thursday, struggled to a 2-for-18 performance in this ALDS. He struck out looking to end last year's ALCS. Over his last two postseasons, he's batting .180 (9-for-50) with zero homers and six RBI.

Doug Fister (1-1) limited the Yankees to five hits and a run over five innings. Max Scherzer threw 1 1/3 innings, but was charged with the run in the seventh, what turned out to be a bases-loaded walk by Benoit to Mark Teixeira.

Brett Gardner singled to left with two outs in the eighth. Jeter then sent a fly ball nearly to the wall in right, but Kelly made the catch.

"It's disappointing, I think there's no other way to put it," Jeter said.

Curtis Granderson flied out to left leading off the bottom of the ninth, Cano hit a broken bat liner to center, and Rodriguez then swung through a 4-seam fastball to end New York's season.

It may have been the final game for Jorge Posada in a Yankee uniform. He was in the final season of a four-year, $52.4 million contract. He had a pair of hits and batted .429 in this series.

"When you look at what he did in this series, he was awesome," Girardi said. "He's had a tremendous career, and I'm sure he's going to continue to play, and I don't know what's going to happen, but you talk about being proud of players. What he went through this year and what he gave us in the postseason, I don't think there's a prouder moment than I've had of Jorgie."

The critical inning of Game 5 was the bottom of the seventh. Jeter legged out an infield hit with one out. Benoit then came into the game, but was ordered to remove a bandage from his face before pitching after Girardi informed umpires of its distracting nature.

Granderson singled to right and then Cano tapped a ball toward the mound on the third base side. Benoit misplayed the bounce, as the ball went under his glove for another infield hit. Rodriguez then fanned on a change-up low and inside. Teixeira walked on a ball that was slightly outside, but Benoit kept the Tigers ahead when Nick Swisher swung through a fastball to complete the inning.

"When you have opportunities like that we talk about keeping the momentum going," Rodriguez said. "Even if it's a sac fly, base on balls, or something to at least get one run. I didn't get the job done."

Kelly's one-out blast went to right on an 0-1 pitch. Young then set a Tigers milestone by cranking a homer to left. This was the first time the Tigers have hit back-to-back homers in a postseason game.

Still, the story was about Detroit's pitching on Thursday.

"What our pitchers did today to hold them to two runs is unbelievable," Kelly said.

Detroit wasted a Magglio Ordonez lead-off double in the second.

Teixeira belted a ground-rule double to center with one out in the bottom of the second, but Swisher and Posada were retired.

Nova was lifted after two innings due to forearm tightness and was replaced by Phil Hughes. Cano flied out to center to leave men on first and second in the bottom of the third.

Hughes was removed in favor of Boone Logan after allowing a one-out single to Miguel Cabrera in the fourth. Alex Avila, who was hitless in his first 13 at- bats of this series, promptly grounded a single into right field, but was left stranded.

Fister escaped a bases-loaded jam in the fourth. After walking Rodriguez, Swisher and Posada singled. The latter hit, a line drive to center field, couldn't score Rodriguez, who was held up by third base coach Rob Thomson. Russell Martin then popped out to first and Gardner fouled out to third on a 3-2 pitch.

Sabathia, in his first-ever relief appearance, came in to start the fifth inning. Pitching on just two days' rest after appearing in Game 3, Sabathia gave up a lead-off double to Austin Jackson, who busted his bat on the hit to left field. Kelly and Young went down swinging, but after Cabrera was intentionally walked, Martinez lined a single to center field. Jackson scored easily as Granderson failed to pick up the ball cleanly on the bounce.

Cano homered to the second deck in right field on a 2-2 pitch in the fifth, and Fister was lifted for Game 2 starter Scherzer to begin the sixth. Posada singled with two outs, but Martin then swung at a low pitch to strike out to keep the AL Central champions ahead by two runs.

Game Notes

This will be the first time the Rangers will meet the Tigers in the playoffs...The Tigers won six of the nine meetings with the Rangers this season...Detroit and New York combined to go 3-for-18 with men in scoring position in Game 5...The Yankees lost an ALDS series for the first time since 2007 vs. Cleveland...The paid attendance of 50,960 is the highest single-game paid attendance in the history of the current Yankee Stadium including all regular season and postseason games...The Tigers advanced to an ALCS for the fifth time since divisional play began in 1969.