Thursday, October 6, 2011

Tigers Win! Yankees Eliminated - Thursday Game Balls

In the first of three Game 5s between today and tomorrow, the Detroit Tigers defeated the Yankees 3-2 as they advance to the ALCS where they'll take on the Texas Rangers. In honor of Game 5, we're going to do the Game Balls a little different tonight and we're going to give out 5 of them. Hey, it's my blog, I'll do what I want.

#1 - Don Kelly - The light hitting 31 year old utility player is known more for his glove than his bat, but he set the tone for the Tigers early in this one. With just one out in the top of the first, Kelly hammered a curveball from Ivan Nova into the rightfield stands to give Detroit a 1-0 lead that they would never relinquish. Kelly, who hit just .245 on the season, hit .364 in the ALDS against the Yankees.
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#2 - Delmon Young - One pitch after Kelly's home run, Young crushed a hanging slider into the left field bleachers for his third home run of the ALDS becoming the first Tiger to hit 3 home runs in a playoff series. The midseason acquisition from Minnesota who had never been on a team that won a playoff game prior to this year - his Twins were swept by the Yankees in 2009 and 2010 - hit .316 in the series.
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#3 - Joaquin Benoit - While Benoit did walk in a run in the 7th, he had two huge strikeouts getting Alex Rodriguez AND Nick Swisher with the bases loaded to preserve the Tigers lead. He then went back out and pitched a scoreless 8th inning although he may have given a few Tiger fans a heart attack when Derek Jeter flew out to the wall in rightfield to end the inning.
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#4 Jose Valverde - Papa Grande hasn't blown a save all year, but he had to earn this one. Facing the heart of the Yankee order, Valverde retired Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano on fly balls before blowing a 94 mile per hour fastball by Alex Rodriguez to send the Tigers through to the ALCS. Valverde was on the mound at the conclusion of all three Tiger wins in this series and including his work in the regular season, he has now saved 51 straight games in 2011.
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#5 Doug Fister - Fister bounced back from his game 1 1/2 loss (he started the continuation of game 1 in relief of Justin Verlander) to throw 5 solid innings holding the potent Yankee lineup to just one run. Fister's best work came in the bottom of the 4th after he loaded the bases with one out, but induced pop-ups from Russell Martin and Brett Gardner to end the threat with the 2-0 lead still intact.
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