DETROIT – Prince Fielder waved his arms franticly, gleefully calling off his teammates while the crowd at Comerica Park roared.
From the moment the big first baseman signed his massive contract in January, an entire city had been waiting for a chance to celebrate. After another dazzling effort by Detroit’s starting pitchers and another soaring home run by Miguel Cabrera, Fielder caught the final out to send the Tigers to the World Series – with a sweep of the New York Yankees, no less.
“There’s still a long way to go but this is an awesome feeling,” Fielder said.
Max Scherzer capped a stupendous stretch for Detroit’s rotation, and the Tigers won their second pennant in seven years by beating the Yankees, 8-1, Thursday for a four-game sweep of the American League Championship Series.
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Cabrera and Jhonny Peralta hit two-run homers in a four-run fourth inning against CC Sabathia, who was unable to prevent the Yankees from getting swept in a postseason series for the first time in 32 years.
“Yeah, we did it,” Cabrera said. “It’s an unbelievable feeling. … Four more wins, guys. Four more wins.”
Scherzer took a no-hit bid into the sixth against a starting lineup that was again without Alex Rodriguez, who flied out with two on in the sixth as a pinch hitter.
Austin Jackson added a solo shot in the seventh for Detroit, and Peralta hit another homer an inning later.
The game ended with Fielder, Detroit’s $214 million acquisition, catching Jayson Nix’s popup. The Tigers spilled onto the field for a celebration that began near second base and eventually moved closer to the third-base line.
Detroit won its 11th American League pennant and first since 2006. The Tigers have five days off before the World Series starts Wednesday either at defending champion St. Louis or 2010 winner San Francisco.
After scoring in three of 39 innings during the series, New York headed home to face questions about its future after a postseason of awful hitting, benched stars and veterans showing their age.
Rodriguez, the $275 million third baseman, was out of the starting lineup for the third time in the playoffs. Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera could only watch following season-ending injuries.
The Yankees hit .188 in the postseason – a record low for a team that played at least seven games – and .157 in the LCS.
Detroit outhit New York 16-2 in the finale and 46-22 in the series. The Tigers’ starters are 4-1 with a 1.02 ERA in this postseason.
Without a World Series title since 1984, Detroit lost to Texas in last year’s ALCS, lost slugger Victor Martinez to a season-ending knee injury in January and quickly replaced his offense by signing Fielder.
In the postseason, Detroit’s rotation has been impeccable. Scherzer, Justin Verlander, Anibal Sanchez and Doug Fister allowed only two earned runs against the Yankees. New York was shut out once and totaled six runs in the series.
“Unbelievable. It’s why we’re here right now because (of) our pitching,” Cabrera said. “Wow!”
Scherzer allowed a run and two hits in 52/3 innings in the finale, struck out 10 and walked two.
“I really had my change-up and my slider going,” he said. “When I can combine that with my fastball, that’s what makes me effective.”
The Yankees failed to win a game in a postseason series for only the fifth time. They hadn’t been swept since a best-of-five ALCS against Kansas City in 1980.
Detroit also beat New York in the division series in 2006 and last year. The Tigers became the first team to win three straight postseason series against the Yankees, according to STATS LLC.
“They threw the ball really well,” Rodriguez said. “They outplayed us in every facet of the game and they were the better team.”