DETROIT — The Detroit Tigers didn’t simply sweep the New York Yankees out of baseball’s postseason on Thursday; they embarrassed them in every way one team can another.
An 8-1 victory in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series gave the Tigers their first pennant since 2006 and completed a most thorough rout of the Yankees.
The Tigers never trailed in the series, outscoring the Yankees, 19-6. They were the fifth team in history to sweep a best-of-seven series without trailing in any game. The Red Sox were the last team to do it, crushing the Cardinals in the 2004 World Series.
“If someone told me we would sweep the Yankees in this series, I would have told them they were crazy,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.
Burly first baseman Prince Fielder, whom the Tigers signed to a $214 million contract before the season to solidify their chances of winning a championship, caught a pop for the final out, touching off a wild celebration.
Jhonny Peralta hit two home runs in what proved to be a tension-free clincher. Miguel Cabrera, the Triple Crown winner, had the biggest hit of the game when he slugged a two-run homer off CC Sabathia in the fourth inning.
“Amazing,” Cabrera said. “We did what we said we wanted to do all season.”
The Tigers now wait for Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday at St. Louis or San Francisco. A year after losing to the Texas Rangers in the ALCS, the Tigers have a chance to bring a World Series title to Detroit for the first time since 1984.
“I’ve got a great bunch,” 83-year-old team owner Mike Ilitch said on the field after the game. “We don’t have one hot dog in the bunch. They’re all great guys.”
The Yankees scored four runs in the ninth inning to send Game 1 into extra innings. In the 30 innings that followed, they had two runs.
The Yankees hit .157 in the series, the second-lowest batting average for a team in LCS play since that round of the playoffs started in 1969.
“There are a lot of good hitters in that room,” New York manager Joe Girardi said, motioning to his clubhouse. “To be able to shut a lot of them down is very surprising to me. Collectively, we weren’t able to get it done.”
Robinson Cano, one of the best hitters in the game, was 1 for 18 in the series and 3 for 40 in nine postseason games. Nick Swisher, who is entering free agency, was 5 for 30.
Alex Rodriguez was 1 for 9 in the ALCS and Curtis Granderson 0 for 11. They combined to strike out 10 times and did not drive in any runs.
Series Most Valuable Player Delmon Young drove in six runs for Detroit, two more than the Yankees had all series.
The Yankees had not been swept in a playoff series since 1980, when they lost a best-of-five ALCS against Kansas City. Their last four-game sweep came in the 1976 World Series against the Reds.
The Yankees did not get a hit off Detroit starter Max Scherzer until the sixth inning on Thursday when Eduardo Nunez led off with a triple to center field. By then, the Tigers had built a 6-0 lead.
Scherzer allowed one run on two hits and struck out 10 over 5⅔ innings.
The righthander has been terrific in two postseason starts, giving up one earned run over 11 innings and striking out 18. Scherzer ended the season with weakness in his shoulder but overcame it thanks to cautious use by Leyland.
Detroit’s four starters had a 0.66 earned run average in the series.
“I had three pitches going and that made me effective,” Scherzer said. “But it was that way for all of us in this series.”
The only other excitement for the Yankees came when Rodriguez pinch hit in the sixth inning with two on, two out, and the Yankees down by five runs. He hit a harmless fly ball to center.
Sabathia lasted only 3⅔ innings and was hit hard, allowing six runs (five earned) on 11 hits.
Singles by Omar Infante, Fielder, and Young gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead in the first inning. They added another run in the second.
The game started to get away from the Yankees in the fourth when Infante singled and Cabrera crushed a Sabathia fastball deep into the stands in left field.
With two outs, Young singled and Peralta hit his first home run. That made it 6-0 and the sold-out crowd of 42,477 at Comerica Park was in for a joyride.
Austin Jackson homered off Derek Lowe in the seventh inning and Peralta connected again in the eighth, this time off David Robertson.
The Tigers are 10-3 against the Yankees in postseason play, winning seven consecutive games. They have knocked New York out of the playoffs the last two seasons.
The Tigers finished with only 88 wins, holding off the White Sox to win the Central Division. They then survived a five-game Division Series against Oakland.
But now expectations have been met.
“I just reminded everybody when we took our punches all year, ‘You know what? There are a lot of games left,’ ” Leyland said. “So hopefully we’ve quieted some doubters now.”