“Our pitching carried us throughout the whole playoffs, so we didn’t need to go out there and score five, six runs every game,” said Young, who scored three runs and knocked in six more in the series to earn ALCS MVP honors.
Sabathia took the loss, allowing six runs on 11 hits in 32
3 innings, helping the Yankees wrap up yet another October collapse. New York has missed the playoffs just once since 1995, but it has won just one pennant in the past nine seasons.
The Tigers, meanwhile, will take aim at their first World Series title since 1984. Detroit last won a pennant in 2006, losing the World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals in five games. Only three players remain from the 2006 squad — Verlander, Infante and Ramon Santiago. The front office parted ways with several key veterans in recent years but kept reloading. The Tigers added Fielder in the offseason, signing the slugger to a nine-year, $214 million contract, and then acquired Infante and Anibal Sanchez in a midseason trade.
With Verlander and Scherzer finishing the regular season Nos. 1 and 2 in baseball in strikeouts, Detroit might enter the World Series with the pitching and offensive mettle needed to snap its 28-year title drought.
“Hopefully we’ve quieted some doubters now,” Leyland said. “The guys just stepped it up when we had to.”
The manager is quick to note there were plenty of bumps along the way. Victor Martinez tore his anterior cruciate ligament before the season. Young was arrested in April and charged with assault, which resulted in a seven-game suspension. The Tigers weren’t even a .500 team at the season’s midpoint. They had to claw their way to the top of the division. After spending most of September in second place, the Tigers didn’t clinch until Oct. 1. Their 88 wins were the fewest of any of this year’s division winners.
“We’ve been playing with our backs against the wall for the better part of the second half,” Verlander said, “and it’s very gratifying to get to this point, play well and really jell as a team when we need to.”