Archive for Saturday, October 7, 2006

Tigers push Yanks to brink

Rogers pitches Detroit to 2-1 series lead

October 7, 2006

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— Kenny Rogers stood alone near the mound and soaked in the cheers. He had stared down his past and all that pinstriped power, and now it was time to enjoy a night like no other.

The sarcastic "A-Rod" choruses had quieted. The taunts directed at Jason Giambi were distant whispers, and the mighty New York Yankees had been blanked by a pitcher who was once one of their own.

And as Tigers fans saluted him by singing "Ken-ny, Ken-ny," Rogers touched his heart with both hands.

" I wanted this game as much as I ever wanted any in my life," he said.

In a ballpark normally locked up by October, the Tigers got 7 2/3 shutout innings from Rogers and outplayed New York in a 6-0 victory, sending Detroit within one win of shocking the Yankees into an early winter.

The 41-year-old Rogers, one of the few Detroit pitchers who doesn't fire 100 mph fastballs, used every pitch in his stash to blank a revamped Yankees' lineup for his first win in 10 postseason games.

Rogers' first win over the Yankees since 1993 came at the perfect time for the Tigers, who were playing their first postseason game in Comerica Park, the first playoff game in The Motor City since 1987 at Tiger Stadium.

Last weekend, the Tigers, baseball's darlings during the regular season, had a chance to wrap up their first division title in 19 years and secure home-field advantage in the first round of the AL playoffs.

Instead, they flopped. Detroit got swept by Kansas City and in the process the Tigers gift wrapped the AL Central title for Minnesota and wound up as a wild card with a playoff appointment in New York.

Well, whatever magic dust that carried the Tigers through the regular season is blowing in the Michigan wind again.

"We really haven't finished everything yet," first baseman Sean Casey said. "We have a 2-1 lead, but that doesn't mean anything."

Alex Rodriguez was still AWOL following an 0-for-3 performance that dropped him to 1-for-11 in the series. New York's $25 million man is batting just .116 (5-for-43) in his last 12 postseason games and hasn't drive in a run in his past 11.

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