LIKELY? YES. BUT YANKS ARE BY NO MEANS A LOCKBy Mike Mazzeo
Just because A.J. Burnett proved everyone wrong by saving the New York Yankees' season, doesn't mean they're a lock to beat the Detroit Tigers in decisive Game 5.
It's clear that the Yankees have the momentum right now, coming off an emotional victory in which their potent offense finally proved its multi-million-dollar worth, scoring 10 runs. They'll be playing in front of a raucous crowd at Yankee Stadium and have all the momentum on their side.
However, given what has transpired this season -- from the Boston Red Sox blowing a seemingly insurmountable nine-game September lead to the Tampa Bay Rays; to the Atlanta Braves blowing a similarly seemingly insurmountable 8½-game September lead to the St. Louis Cardinals; to what Burnett did on Tuesday night in Game 4 -- anything can happen.
Rookie Ivan Nova has pitched like an ace all season, and came through during a so-called "relief stint" in Game 1, but he could slip up on Thursday night. On the other hand, Doug Fister, who was waxed by Robinson Cano and Yankees in Game 1, could revert back to the 8-1, 1.79 ERA pitcher he was after being traded to Detroit ahead of the postseason.
Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher all seemed to come out of their dismal postseason slumps late in Game 4, but their struggles could just as easily return in Game 5.
We could go on forever with these hypothetical scenarios: The point is we know nothing for sure.
Since Luis Gonzalez and the Arizona Diamondbacks beat them in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series, the Yankees are 5-8 in postseason elimination games. But at this point, that win-loss record probably means as much as Burnett's 11-11 mark in the regular season.
Does it look like the Yankees are going to take this series? Absolutely.
Does that mean they're a lock? Absolutely not.
TIGERS HAD THEIR SHOT TUESDAY, AND WON'T GET ANOTHERBy Ian Begley
The Detroit Tigers didn't just have the New York Yankees on the ropes Tuesday night.
They had them head hanging, hands down and in perfect position to be knocked into next season.
After all, A.J. Burnett was on the mound, remember?
But Detroit couldn't finish them off. And I don't think they'll get another chance on Thursday.
Because some of the most expensive bats in the Yankees' lineup -- the same guys mired in a series-long slump -- began to stir in Game 4.
And those hitters -- along with the rest of the Yankees bats -- will carry Ivan Nova & Co. to a win in Game 5 and into the American League Championship Series.
Just look at what happened late Tuesday night:
Alex Rodriguez was hitless in 12 at-bats when he stepped to the plate in the fifth inning of Game 4.
He came up with the bases loaded, one out and the Yankees up, 3-1. Big spot. The same spot in which A-Rod had failed to deliver all-too-often in every postseason outside of the '09 edition.
But Rodriguez came through on Tuesday. And that comfort level will carry over into Thursday.
Then, to a lesser extent, there was Mark Teixeira.
The Yankees' $180 million first baseman had just one hit in 11 ALDS at-bats entering play Tuesday. He made a couple of loud outs in Game 4 -- a lineout to second and another to right -- and added an infield single in the eighth.
This is nothing to hang your hat on. But Teixeira's solid at-bats Tuesday will carry over into Game 5. Which is one of many reasons why Detroit is done.
Jim Leyland's crew had its shot on Tuesday. Didn't take advantage. They won't get another one.