The Tigers took advantage early and never looked back as the Tigers took the last game of the 5-game series with a 3-2 victory over the New York Yankees, eliminating them from the postseason.
With Ivan Nova on the mound in the must-win Game 5; Don Kelly and Delmon Young jumped on hanging breaking balls with back-to-back home runs to right field and left field to put the Tigers ahead 2-0. Ivan Nova left early with what was later revealed to be tightness in his forearm. Phil Hughes and Boone Logan put together 2 shutout innings following Nova’s early exit. Then CC Sabathia made his first career relief appearance and surrendered what would eventually be seen as the game-winning run on a Victor Martinez single following an intentional walk of Miguel Cabrera in 1.1 innings of work. The pitchers that followed were Rafael Soriano, David Robertson, and Mariano Rivera and they all threw perfect work through 3.2 innings.
The Yankees offense had a hard time with Game 5 starter Doug Fister. The Tigers midseason acquisition went 5 innings escaping jams by allowing just one run on a solo home run by Robinson Cano in Fister’s last inning of work. In the 4th inning, Russell Martin and Brett Gardner came to the plate with the bases loaded and just 1 out but hit two pop outs to lose a big opportunity. Then later in the 7th inning, Robinson Cano hit a soft ground ball to load the bases yet again with just 1 out. Alex Rodriguez proceeded to strikeout and despite a Mark Teixeira walk to put the deficit at 1, Nick Swisher struck out to lose this opportunity too. With the game still at 3-2 in the 8th inning, Brett Gardner reached with a single and 2 outs when Derek Jeter swung at the first pitch with Gardner running that was caught at the warning track, about a foot from the wall and what would have been a home run to put the Yankees ahead. The Yankees were shut down by the perfect Jose Valverde as he finished off the Yankees with a strikeout of Alex Rodriguez to end the game.
The two home runs surrendered early by Ivan Nova were very deflating for the Yankees and the fans but the lead was not insurmountable as the Yankees scratched out two runs. However, the number of opportunities the Yankees had with runners in scoring position, including two innings in which the bases were loaded with less than two outs, were far too frequent to hit 2 for 9. The Yankees inability to get the right type of hit in the advantageous situations cost them this game. The Yankees had enough opportunities to score that they should have had this game well in-hand. Alex Rodriguez’s notable struggles in the postseason became evident yet again. Despite the Tigers batting .228 and having a team ERA of 5.73, the big picture is that the Yankees did not get hits when they needed them the most and that is why the season ends here, an unacceptable exit for a franchise held to a standard of championships, not playoff appearances.