DETROIT — The New York Yankees may have hijacked the coverage of the American League Championship Series, from Derek Jeter’s broken ankle to the benching of Alex Rodriguez and the assorted A-Rod sideshows.
But when all was said and done, the Yankees were simply manhandled by Detroit, which bounced CC Sabathia early in an 8-1 win in Game 4, sweeping the series in stunning fashion.
Reliever Phil Coke slammed his glove to the ground after Prince Fielder caught the final popup, putting an exclamation point on the win.
“That team has a lot of future Hall of Famers on it,” Fielder said. “For them to be off-balanced, that’s a lot to credit to our pitching staff.”
The Yankees had gone a record 36 straight postseason series without being swept until the Tigers mauled them in Motown. Now the Tigers will get a prolonged rest until Wednesday, when Justin Verlander will start against either St. Louis or San Francisco in Game 1 of the World Series.
Detroit got another dominant start, this time by Max Scherzer, and knocked out 16 hits, including four home runs, against Sabathia and the Yankees’ bullpen. Delmon Young, who drove in eight runs in the sweep, was named the series most valuable player.
New York never led in the series and wound up hitting an anemic .157, the second-worst team average since the league championship series came into existence in 1969.
“You’re crushed,” Rodriguez said. “Obviously, you work eight months to get to this point. I know there’s a lot of teams that would love to be in this position, in the ALCS, but we just came up short.”
Following the lead of fellow starters Verlander, Doug Fister and Anibal Sanchez, Scherzer was basically untouchable. He no-hit the Yankees though five innings before Eduardo Nunez led off the sixth with a triple to right. Scherzer was removed with two out in the sixth, giving up one run and two hits while throwing 93 pitches.
“We just know we’re all really good, and we’re executing off-speed pitches as well as anybody,” Scherzer said of the starters. “Everybody is doing it at a phenomenal rate, and I’m just a piece of the puzzle. We all give the team a chance to win, and to be able to sweep New York at home, there’s nothing like it.”
Detroit got on the board in the first on Young’s run-scoring single, and added a run in the third on an infield hit by Avisail Garcia. Sabathia never got in a groove, and came unglued in the fourth.
A first pitch, two-run home run by Miguel Cabrera made it 4-0, and Jhonny Peralta added another two-run shot, the first of his two home runs. Sabathia gave up six runs and 11 hits in 3 2/3 innings, his shortest outing since his final regular-season start in 2009.
Tigers Manager Jim Leyland will attempt to capture his first World Series title since 1997, when he guided Florida past Cleveland in a seven-game series. Leyland deftly handled his star players in the ALCS, even benching his struggling closer, Jose Valverde.
“Stars are stars,” Leyland said. “You know, there is no trick to it. I don’t have any special philosophy for it.”
For the Yankees, it was a postseason embarrassment on the grandest scale. Eric Chavez finished 0 for 16, and Robinson Cano was three for 40. Rodriguez, who was benched again but entered as a pinch-hitter, went three for 25 in the playoffs.
“I’ve got to look in the mirror,” Rodriguez said.
He’ll have a long winter to spend looking at himself.