Big League Stew - MLB

Escape from New York! Tigers claw way to ALCS with 3-2 win

Score and situation: The Detroit Tigers hung on for a 3-2 win over the New York Yankees in Thursday's ALDS Game 5 at Yankee Stadium. The victory sends the Tigers to the ALCS for the first time since 2006, when they also beat the Yankees in the ALDS.

Leading lads: Back-to-back home runs by Don Kelly(notes) and Delmon Young(notes) gave the Tigers an early two-run lead in the first inning, but the real story on Thursday night was Detroit's pitching. Starter Doug Fister(notes) allowed only one run over five effective innings and the bullpen took over from there as Max Scherzer(notes), Joaquin Benoit(notes) and Jose Valverde(notes) closed out the series with four innings of one-run ball.

Escape from New York! Tigers claw way to ALCS with 3-2 winHead hangers: In a season when the Yankees' pitching was the main worry all year long, who would have seen the team bowing out on a weak offensive effort? The bullpen was great in taking over from starter Ivan Nova(notes), but New York batters left a combined 11 runners on base and never got the big hit they really needed. Two hundred mil doesn't buy what it used to, apparently.

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Key play: There were several key at-bats, but we'll go with Jose Valverde striking out Alex Rodriguez(notes) to end the game. The punchout officially ended New York's threat and marked the second year in a row that A-Rod struck out to end the Yankees' season.

Interesting stat: Mariano Rivera(notes) only needed five pitches to throw a 1-2-3 ninth. He threw only eight pitches for the entire ALDS, his lowest total in 32 postseason series.

What they'll be talking about: With one giant offense already defeated, will Tigers pitching be able to replicate its effort against the powerful Rangers lineup? In New York, the focus will be on who else? A-Rod, A-Rod, A-Rod. Thursday's 0-for-4 performance with three strikeouts didn't do him any favors in the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world of New York baseball.

What's next: The Tigers will travel down to Texas to face the Rangers in Saturday's Game 1 of the ALCS. The game time has yet to be announced.

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