The Detroit Tigers eliminated the New York Yankees from the Major League Baseball playoffs on Saturday, riding five-hit pitching over eight-and-a-third innings by Jeremy Bonderman to win 8-3 and advance to the American League Championship Series.
Three years after losing 119 games in a season, the Tigers recovered from losing the first game of the series to win three three straight and will play at Oakland starting tomorrow in the first postseason meeting between the clubs since 1972.
Bonderman was perfect for five innings to lead Detroit to victory in Game 4 and eliminate A-Rod, Derek Jeter and the other high-priced, high-profile Yankees.
Days removed from being swept by Kansas City on the final weekend of the regular season, manager Jim Leyland and his band of wild-card Tigers clawed their way back from an 0-1 deficit to win a series many thought would be severely lopsided.
But these man-eating Tigers simply devoured the AL East champions, outplaying New York in every phase to advance to their first ALCS since 1987. On Tuesday, they'll play at Oakland in Game 1, the first postseason meeting between the clubs since 1972.
Bonderman allowed just five singles, walking off to a thunderous ovation with an 8-1. Reliever Jamie Walker gave up Jorge Posada's two-run homer.
Magglio Ordonez and Craig Monroe each homered off Jaret Wright as the Tigers built an 8-0 after six innings and coasted through the final three.
The Yankees are heading home -- eliminated in the opening round for the second straight year -- to face owner George Steinbrenner's wrath. Steinbrenner may have big changes in store for his US$200 million ballclub and galaxy of All-Stars, who haven't won a World Series since 2000. According to a report in the Daily News, manager Joe Torre is expected to be fired unless he resigns first -- or team officials can talk Steinbrenner out of making the move.
Mets 9, Dodgers 5
At Los Angeles, Shawn Green and the hitters started fast, Billy Wagner closed it out quickly and now the New York Mets are headed to the NL championship series.
A dominant offense and reliable bullpen led the way as the Mets completed their first postseason sweep since 1969, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 9-5 in Game 3.
After rolling in the first round, the Mets will open the NLCS at Shea Stadium on Wednesday against the San Diego-St Louis winner.
Shawn Green had three hits and two RBIs against his former team in a game decided by the bullpens after starters Steve Trachsel and Greg Maddux made earlier exits.
For the Dodgers, it was a familiar ending. They were 1-12 in postseason games since 1988, when they beat the Mets in the NLCS and Oakland in the World Series.
Jeff Kent had four hits, including a two-run homer, for Los Angeles.
The Mets had the NL East virtually wrapped up by the All-Star break, and went on to win a league-high 97 games. But having to go without the injured Pedro Martinez and Orlando Hernandez against the Dodgers seemed to make for a dicey proposition.
That turned out not to be the case because the Mets scored 19 runs in the three games, and their bullpen did its job. The relievers needed to come through -- Mets starters pitched only thirteen-and-two-third innings in the series. Hardly a repeat from 1969, when the Tom Seaver-led Mets swept the best-of-five NLCS from Atlanta.