Sun, Oct 08, 2006 - Page 23 News List

Rogers pushes NY nearer elimination

'DAVID VERSUS GOLIATH' While many thought the Yankees would handle the Detroit Tigers easily, the veteran pitcher said his team always 'felt we had a chance'

AGENCIES , OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA

Starting pitcher Kenny Rogers of the Detroit Tigers pitches against the New York Yankees during game three of the American League Division Series on Friday at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers won 6-0.

PHOTO: AFP

Tigers 6, Yankees 0

At Detroit, Kenny Rogers pitched for 7 2/3 shutout innings to outperform New York's staff and push Detroit within one win of shocking the Yankees into an early vacation.

In a ballpark normally locked up by this month, the 41-year-old Rogers, one of the few Detroit staffers who doesn't fire 160kph fastballs, used every pitch in his personal stash to blank a revamped Yankees' lineup 6-0 for his first career postseason win.

Rogers' first win over the Yankees since 1993 came at the perfect time for the Tigers, who were playing their first postseason game in Comerica Park, the first playoff game in the Motor City since 1987 at Tiger Stadium.

Detroit, which left New York on Thursday with a split after rallying to win Game 2, scored three runs in the second inning off Randy Johnson and two more in the sixth. And, Rogers, whose career highlights include a perfect game in 1994 for Texas and an embarrassing run-in with a TV cameraman, made them stand up.

Rogers, who played for New York in 1996-97, confounded the Yankees with fastballs, sinkers, changeups and curves. The left-hander struck out eight -- his most since June 13 -- and walked two.

After striking out Bobby Abreu for the second out in the eighth, Rogers was lifted by manager Jim Leyland and received a long, loud ovation on his walk to the Tigers dugout.

"I thought that he was sharp enough to still do it, but I did know that he was getting a little bit tired," Leyland said. "But at his age, you're entitled to that."

Joel Zumaya got one out and Todd Jones finished the combined five-hitter after Rogers exited.

"I think a lot of people may have had us like David versus Goliath, or whatever, but I think we all felt we had a chance," Rogers said after the game.

"I wanted this win for us as a team, but I wanted it for myself, my family, everything. I wanted to do well and leave nothing out there," he said.

The Tigers scored three runs in the second inning against Yankee starter Randy Johnson and added two more in the sixth.

Sean Casey had two RBIs and Curtis Granderson hit a solo homer as the Tigers, who won just 43 games in 2003, moved within one win of taking a best-of-5 series few thought they had a chance in.

Jeremy Bonderman was scheduled to start Game 4 yesterday against New York's Jaret Wright.

Athletics 8, Twins 3

The Oakland Athletics swept away years of first-round futility when they beat the Minnesota Twins 8-3 to reach the American League Championship Series for the first time in 14 years on Friday.

Milton Bradley homered and threw out Torii Hunter in a disputed play at the plate as the A's ended a run of nine straight losses in potential playoff clinchers.

The A's never trailed in finishing off the Twins in three games and will face either the Detroit Tigers or New York Yankees starting on Tuesday. The best-of-five division series between Detroit and New York was tied 1-1 going into Friday's late game.

Marco Scutaro doubled twice and tied an Oakland postseason record with four RBIs and Eric Chavez homered as the Athletics won a playoff series for the first time since 1990.

Hunter and Justin Morneau homered for the Twins, who surprisingly won the AL Central on the regular season's final day but couldn't stage the kind of first-round comeback they pulled off against the A's four years ago.

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