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2012 American League Championship Series
From BR Bullpen
|2012 American League Championship Series|
88 - 74 in the AL
|4 - 0
|New York Yankees|
95 - 67 in the AL
The 2012 American League Championship Series featured the AL East champions New York Yankees, owners of the best record in the American League that year, taking on the Detroit Tigers, who despite being the AL Central champs, had the worst regular-season record among the 10 teams qualified for the postseason that year, tied with the St. Louis Cardinals who earned a wild card berth over in the National League. However, that record was the result of a mediocre start to the season; Detroit had played as well as anyone down the stretch, and owned perhaps the best starting rotation in the major leagues, in addition to having the first Triple Crown winner in 45 years in the middle of its line-up in Miguel Cabrera, while the Yankees were not as formidable as in previous years. Thus, the series was considered fairly even in spite of the difference in won-loss records.
Both teams had to win a decisive fifth game in the Division Series to make it to the ALCS. New York was locked into a tight race with the Baltimore Orioles all season, then faced them again in the ALDS, having to play two extra-inning games before coming on top. The Tigers had to defeat the Oakland Athletics on the road in Game 5 of the other ALDS to punch their ticket.
The two teams had met only once before in the postseason, and that was barely a year earlier, when the Tigers upset the heavily-favored Yankees in five games in the ALDS. That result was another point in favor of the Tigers.
 The Teams
New York Yankees
 Series results
|1||Detroit Tigers 6 New York Yankees 4||October 13||Doug Fister (0-0) Andy Pettitte (0-0)|
|2||Detroit Tigers 3 New York Yankees 0||October 14||Anibal Sanchez (1-0) Hiroki Kuroda (0-1)|
|3||New York Yankees 1 Detroit Tigers 2||October 16||Philip Hughes (0-1) Justin Verlander (1-0)||8:00 pm|
|4||New York Yankees Detroit Tigers||October 18||CC Sabathia (0-0) Max Scherzer (0-0)||4:00 pm|
 Game 1 @ New Yankee Stadium
|WP: Drew Smyly (1-0), LP: David Phelps (0-1)|
|Home Runs: - DET: Delmon Young (1); NYY: Raul Ibanez (1), Ichiro Suzuki (1)|
- Attendance: 47,122
In Game 1, Raul Ibanez hit a homer to cap a game-tying four-run outburst against Tigers closer Jose Valverde in the 9th inning, but Detroit managed to overcome the psychological blow to win, 6-4, in 12 innings. The Yankees' Derek Jeter collected the 200th postseason hit of his career in the game - second place on the all-time list is held by his long-time teammate Bernie Williams with 128 - but he then suffered a broken ankle while fielding a ground ball in the 12th, putting him out for the rest of the postseason. Delmon Young drove in 3 runs for Detroit, including a homer in the 8th and the game-winner with a double off David Phelps, the eighth Yankee pitcher of the game.
 Game 2 @ New Yankee Stadium
|WP: Anibal Sanchez (1-0), LP: Hiroki Kuroda (0-1), SV: Phil Coke (1)|
|Home Runs: - none|
- Attendance: 47,082
The Tigers took a two games to none lead in the ALCS with a 3-0 shutout of the Yankees at New Yankee Stadium. Anibal Sanchez pitched 7 innings in another strong outing by a Detroit starter. Hiroki Kuroda retired the first 15 Tigers batters but allowed a run in the 6th on a botched potential double play grounder. A blown call by second base umpire Jeff Nelson in the 8th led to two more runs, and resulted in manager Joe Girardi's ejection.
 Game 3 @ Comerica Park
|WP: Justin Verlander (1-0), LP: Philip Hughes (0-1), SV: Phil Coke (2)|
|Home Runs: - NYY: Eduardo Nunez (1); DET: Delmon Young (2)|
- Attendance: 42,970
Ace Justin Verlander, coming off two strong performances in the ALDS, was on the mound for the Tigers as the series moved to Detroit for Game 3. He was facing Philip Hughes, but the big story for the Yankees was who wasn't in the line-up: Joe Girardi decided to bench the unproductive Alex Rodriguez, mired in a postseason-long slump, as well as RF Nick Swisher. In their places were Eric Chavez at 3B, and Brett Gardner playing LF and leading off while Ichiro Suzuki moved to RF.
Verlander was his usual excellent self, and while he did not strike out batters by the ton - he had only 3 Ks on the night - he did not allow any strongly-hit balls either. Through the first eight innings, only Ichiro had gotten to him, with a pair of singles, and no one had walked. In the meantime, Delmon Young had given the Tigers the lead with a solo homer to lead off the 4th, and only nine pitches later, Hughes left the game because of a sore back. The Yankees once again had to dig deep into their bullpen to continue the game, making it that much harder. In the 5th, Quintin Berry led off with a single against David Phelps, then promptly stole second base. With first base open, Girardi elected not to issue an intentional walk to Miguel Cabrera and it cost him as the Triple Crown winner doubled, adding a second run to the Tigers' lead. For Cabrera, it was his 16th straight game with a hit in the League Championship Series, setting a new all-time record; he had drawn a walk earlier in the game to reach base in his 19th straight postseason game as a member of the Tigers, setting a team record.
Verlander entered the 9th with a 2-0 lead, but with his pitch count well past 100. He gave up a lead-off homer to Eduardo Nunez to make it 2-1, and after he retired Gardner for the inning's first out, Jim Leyland took him out in favor of Phil Coke. It was clear that he was not going to risk bringing back Jose Valverde with only a one-run lead after his Game 1 meltdown, but Coke made the end interesting too. Ichiro grounded out for the second out, but Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano singled to put two runners on, with pinch-runner Jayson Nix in scoring position at second base. Postseason hero Raul Ibanez stepped up to bat, but this time he failed in his mission, striking out to end the game. Detroit now was only one win away from the World Series, in the driver's seat with the next two games to be played at home and the Yankees clearly demoralized.
 Game 4 @ Comerica Park
|WP: Max Scherzer (1-0), LP: CC Sabathia (0-1)|
|Home Runs: - TEX: Miguel Cabrera (1), Jhonny Peralta 2 (2), Austin Jackson (1)|
- Attendance: 42,477
Game 4 was delayed by a day, as a steady downpour of rain prevented the game from being played as originally scheduled on the evening of October 17th. It was rescheduled for the following afternoon, when it was played under a blue sky, and quickly turned in the home team's favor. Yankees manager Joe Girardi had plenty of choice about whom to bench, given none of his hitters was producing; he left Alex Rodriguez out of the starting line-up for the second straight game, even though his replacement, Eric Chavez, was still hitless for the postseason himself, and brought Nick Swisher back to play RF, moving Brett Gardner to CF. On the mound, he had ace CC Sabathia facing the Tigers' Max Scherzer, who had trailed only his teammate Justin Verlander for the American League strikeout crown.
The Tigers got to work early, scoring in the 1st inning when Omar Infante singled with one out and reached third on Prince Fielder's single one out later. Delmon Young then singled in the first run, giving him 6 RBI for the series, matching the total number of runs the Yankees would score as a team; Young's performance earned him the ALCS MVP Award after the game. The Tigers added another run in the 3rd, thanks to some shaky defense by usually sure-handed 1B Mark Teixeira. Fielder singled off Teixeira's glove with one out and Young drew a walk; after a second out, Andy Dirks hit a bouncer towards first base that deflected off Teixeira's glove for an error, loading the bases. Rookie Avisail Garcia followed with another single, and it was 2-0 for Detroit.
Meanwhile, the Yankees were hitless through four innings, having only placed two men on base, the result of a walk and an error by Fielder, while Scherzer had already struck out 7. The Tigers broke the game open in the bottom of the 4th. Infante singled after one out and Miguel Cabrera followed with his first homer of the postseason, extending his record Championship Series hitting streak to 17 games. Young singled after a second out, then Jhonny Peralta followed with a homer for a 6-0 lead. When Dirks followed with a double, Girardi removed Sabathia from the game, but the Tigers now had a stranglehold on the contest.
SS Eduardo Nunez finally got the Yankees' first hit in the 6th inning when he hit a lead-off triple off Scherzer. After one out, Swisher hit a double for what would be the Yankees' last hurrah, as their hitters would go hitless for the rest of the game, finishing with 2 hits against 12 strikeouts. Scherzer was removed from the game when he walked Teixeira with two outs, leaving after 5 2/3 innings having given up 2 hits and 2 walks while striking out 10. Drew Smyly got the final out of the inning, then relievers Octavio Dotel and Phil Coke finished the game, Coke being perfect over the final two innings. Meanwhile, the Tigers continued to hit, placing two men on without scoring in both the 5th and 6th innings. Austin Jackson homered off Derek Lowe to lead off the 7th, and Peralta completed the scoring with his second long ball of the game off David Robertson in the 8th. The final score was 8-1 for Detroit, ending a completely one-sided series. The Yankees had never led in the four games (just the second LCS to feature such a situation, the other one being the 1984 ALCS), scoring only 6 runs and batting .157, the second worst figure in ALCS history (the Minnesota Twins had hit .155 in 1969).
 Further Reading
- Mitch Albom: "A resounding sweep by the Tigers", USA Today, October 19, 2012 
 Related Sites
|Major League Baseball American League Championship Series