With the season on the line, A.J. Burnett and remarkable defense by Granderson helped the Yankees stay alive and force the all-or-nothing Game 5 with tonight’s definitive 10-1 victory to put the series at 2-2.
Early in the game, the Yankees appeared to stumble out of the gates. A.J. Burnett had a very long first inning that included 3 walks (1 intentional) and a deep hit to center field that was just within the reach of Curtis Granderson’s to save 3 runs from scoring and probably keeping A.J. Burnett in this game. Burnett went 5.2 innings and allowed just 1 run on a solo home run from Victor Martinez on a 3-1 count. After the rough first inning, Burnett settled down and kept the ball on the ground as he managed a total of 10 groundouts in tonight’s game.
A.J. Burnett exited with 2 outs in the 6th inning and 1 on and gave the ball to Rafael Soriano. The first pitch was drilled to left centerfield and Curtis Granderson showed off his defensive abilities yet again with a diving play to keep the Tigers off the scoreboard. The Yankees would eventually blow the game open and allow relievers like David Robertson and Mariano Rivera to rest so Phil Hughes and Boone Logan could finish off the game.
Entering tonight’s game, Derek Jeter was 0 for 10 against Detroit’s starter Rick Porcello. However tonight he managed to put the Yankees on the board early in the 3rd inning with a two-run double to deep center over the head of centerfielder Austin Jackson. The Yankees managed to score 2 more runs later in the 5th inning to get them a 4-run lead over the Tigers as they try to avoid elimination. Later a 7-hit, 6-run outburst in a long 8th inning that involved 4 Detroit relievers.
The Yankees season depended on A.J. Burnett and many were extremely doubtful based on the way Burnett’s season has gone. However, A.J. Burnett sparkled in yet another postseason game as he got past a rough 1st inning and didn’t let the solo home run phase him. The Tigers were 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position off Burnett as he won the hearts of more Yankees fans for one night at least.
It became evident that the usual gameplan of working counts and raising the pitch counts of the starting pitcher could play a huge role in Game 5. Like Rick Porcello, Doug Fister is not an ace-caliber pitcher that needs to be attacked aggressively to avoid the 2-strike counts where you may strike out. The Yankees could implement a patient approach with the intent of getting the starting pitcher out of the game as many of the Detroit relievers have been tagged for numerous runs. The Yankees and Tigers will return to Yankee Stadium for Game 5 and the winner of that game will play the Texas Rangers in the American League Championhship Series.