Detroit rocks NY: Bonderman, Tigers eliminate Yanks

DETROIT (AP) -- As a reborn baseball town erupted in splashes of

orange and blue around them, the Detroit Tigers danced in the

infield, kicking up dirt like kids on a sandlot.

They grabbed Jim Leyland, hoisted him on their shoulders and

carried him off the field as 43,000 delirious fans screamed as one.

The manager's ride was a short one, but the party was just getting


Game 4 Breakdown

Unsung Hero

Magglio Ordonez. He got the Tigers' offense rolling and scored the first three times he came to the plate. He homered in the second, reached on an error in the third and singled in the fifth. He finished 2-for-4 with two RBI.


The Yankees' offense. After being touted as one of the greatest lineups of all time, they weren't even good. Only four players managed six hits, and the team batted .172 (11-for-64) with just four extra-base knocks and three runs in two games in Detroit – exiting the playoffs with a whimper.

Turning Point

The bottom of the second inning. Ordonez led off with a solo home run, and three batters later, Craig Monroe hit a two-run shot to give the Tigers a 3-0 lead. They never looked back after that.

On Deck

The Tigers advance to the American League Championship Series for the first time since 1987, when they lost to the eventual World Series champion Twins in five games. Game 1 of the ALC is Tuesday in Oakland. Barry Zito will start for the A's. Detroit will counter with either Nate Robertson or Justin Verlander.

The Tigers are still on the prowl. The mighty New York Yankees

struck out.

Three years after losing 119 games, they moved back among

baseball's biggest cats with an 8-3 victory Saturday in Game 4 over

the Yankees, whose $200 million payroll couldn't help them against

Detroit's pitching.

"This is the best of the best, to beat the best team in

baseball," said Craig Monroe, who hit a two-run homer. "This is

baseball for us, right here in Detroit."

Once a punchline, the Tigers punched out the big, bad Yankees.

"You kind of get tired of giving the other team credit," third

baseman Alex Rodriguez said after another terrible October. "At

some point you've got to look in the mirror and say, 'I sucked."

Jeremy Bonderman was perfect for five innings and sublime until

the ninth as the Tigers moved into the AL championship series

against Oakland by eliminating A-Rod, Derek Jeter and the other

high-priced, high-profile Yankees.

Given little chance before the series started or when they were

down 0-1, Detroit won three straight to stun the AL East champions,

who could be facing a colder New York baseball winter than normal.

It all happened faster than Leyland, the Tigers' no-nonsense

skipper, or anyone could have ever imagined. The feisty 61-year-old

ended a six-year retirement and took over a team that had averaged

100 losses since 2001 and one he figured would fight with Kansas

City to stay out of last place in the AL Central.

Instead, Leyland has taken the Tigers near the top.

"I didn't think we'd be here this year," he said. "All we

wanted to do was look at our pieces and parts we had and see if we

needed to change any. I thought it would be a year or so before we

got into a situation like this. This came a little bit quicker than

I expected."

And, he used a pinstriped plan to make it happen.

During spring training in Florida, Leyland made his players

study the Yankees. He wanted them to emulate their Bronx-born

bravado, right down to the way they run onto the field.

Elias Says

Jeremy Bonderman
Jeremy Bonderman had a perfect game until Robinson Cano singled to start the sixth inning. In the past 20 years, only one other pitcher was perfect through at least the first five innings of a postseason game: Mike Mussina, who had a potential perfect game broken up with one out in the seventh inning in Game 1 of the 2004 ALCS on a double by Boston's Mark Bellhorn.

• For more Elias Says, Click here.

"I said, 'That's the level we want to get to, and we've got to

get that quiet swagger and confidence that the Yankees got," he

said. "I used them as an example. It's kind of ironic that we got

to play them, and fortunately beat them."

The Tigers' chances seemed slim just a few days ago when they

were swept at home on the final weekend of the regular season by

the last-place Royals, who denied them a division title. Detroit

had to settle for a wild-card berth and a first-round matchup with

the Yankees.

It seemed lopsided. It sure was. The Yankees didn't have a


These man-eating Tigers simply devoured New York, outplaying the

Yanks in every phase to advance to their first AL championship

series since 1987. On Tuesday, the Tigers will play at Oakland in

Game 1 of the AL championship series, the first postseason meeting

between the clubs since 1972.

"Nobody gave us a shot in this series," Bonderman said. "That

motivated us."

The Yankees never found any spark, and for the second straight

year the star-studded squad is going home after a first-round exit.

"I'm stunned," New York general manager Brian Cashman said.

"This team fooled me to some degree. Detroit was on top of their

game and we weren't, and that combination was lethal for us. I'm

disappointed where we're at now."

Losing stung and now the Yankees will have to face owner George

Steinbrenner's wrath. He may have big changes in store for his

underachieving ballclub, which hasn't won a World Series since


One of the Yankees' offseason moves could be trading Rodriguez,

who capped another forgettable October by going 1-for-14 (.071) and

going without an RBI for the second straight postseason.

"I have no one to blame but myself," he said. "I know I

certainly have to do well for this team to win."

Bonderman allowed just five singles, walking off to a thunderous

ovation with an 8-1 lead.

After the final out, the Tigers mobbed each other before turning

their affection to Leyland, who began his baseball career in 1963

as a catcher in Detroit's system.

History repeats

New York Yankees
Having won the first game against Detroit on Tuesday, New York was doomed and didn't even know it. Here's the Yanks' ALDS record since 2000 when winning and losing the first game:
Winning Game 10-3
Losing Game 14-0

"That was awesome," third baseman Brandon Inge said. "That's

so deserving. I don't know how many people have been carried off

the field on their shoulders, but I tell you what, if there were a

select few that deserve it, he is definitely one of them."

Moments later, the Tigers emerged from their clubhouse armed

with champagne bottles and they uncorked them during a victory lap

around Comerica Park, slapping hands and spraying fans who danced

to Kiss' "Rock and Roll All Night."

"These fans have been here for some of the worst things,"

Monroe said. "We wanted them to be able to have a party tonight."

Magglio Ordonez and Monroe each homered off Jaret Wright as the

Tigers built an 8-0 after six innings and coasted through the final


Blanked in Game 3 by Kenny Rogers, the Yankees and their reputed

Murderer's Row didn't score off Bonderman until the seventh,

snapping a scoreless streak of a season-high 20 2-3 innings. This

from a team which scored 930 runs during the regular season but

managed just 14 in the series, getting drubbed 14-3 in the final

two games.

"You've got to play," Jeter said. "You don't win games on

paper. You've got to come out here and perform. And they pretty

much overmatched us in this series."

Feeding off a frenzied crowd, Bonderman retired the first 15

Yankees in order before Robinson Cano dribbled a single through the

middle for New York's first hit. Bonderman, though, wasn't about to

let a big lead slip away like he did last Sunday when the Royals

overcame a 6-0 deficit to beat the Tigers, a loss that cost Detroit

an AL Central title and home-field advantage in Round 1.

As it turns out, the Tigers and their $80-plus million payroll

didn't need any such luxuries.

"I just wanted to go out and attack them," Bonderman said. "I

just wanted to leave everything I had on the field, and I think I

did. This is the greatest thrill in the world. You can't ask for

anything better."Game notes
Bernie Williams, who signed with the Yankees 21 years ago,

said he wants to take some time before deciding his next move. ...

The Tigers' wild clubhouse celebration included Hall of Famer Al

Kaline, former Tigers slugger Willie Horton and utility infielder

Ramon Santiago dancing to some Latin music. ... The Yankees'

scoreless streak was their longest since the 2000 postseason.