Tigers Advance in Big Game 5 Win: Worst-to-1st Players Play Large Role

Jon O'ConnorCorrespondent IOctober 7, 2011

Don Kelley and Delmon Young after Kelly's Home Run and Before Young's
Don Kelley and Delmon Young after Kelly's Home Run and Before Young's

Yankee Stadium was quickly silenced Thursday night as the Detroit Tigers did not take very long to get on the board. 

In the first inning Don Kelley belted a home run that was quickly followed by a Delmon Young long ball, giving the Tigers an early 2-0 lead. That was more than enough for Tigers starter Doug Fister, who gave five strong innings. Fister held the Yanks to just one run on five hits while striking out four.

With the early exit of Fister, it was up to the Tiger bullpen (which Justin Verlander was NOT a part of) to hold the Yanks down for the final four innings, and they did just that. The Yankees were 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position and 11 runners left on base. Joaquin Benoit gave an excellent performance out of the bullpen for the Tigers, going an inning and a third while giving up three hits and no runs. 

Finally, in the ninth inning, it was up to the best closer in baseball this year—Jose Valverde, who was a perfect 49-for-49 in save opportunities this season. None would prove to be bigger than this one. The Yankees would send up the heart of their batting order, Curtis Granderson, Robinson Cano, and Alex Rodriguez in the ninth. 

Valverde got Granderson to pop to left, Cano sent a broken-bat line out to center and Alex Rodriquez struck out swinging to end the game and the series. 

Two key parts to this win were players who came from last-place teams at the midseason point to the Tigers and have, since then, been right in the middle of the action.

Starting pitcher Doug Fister came from the AL West's worst team, Seattle Mariners, and posted an 8-1 record in the regular season after joining Detroit.

Much of the same can be said for Delmon Young who came to the Tigers from the Minnesota Twins and had three solo home runs in the series against the Yankees.

It must feel great for these two players to go from worst to first in the same season. 

This is what October baseball is all about—great pitching, great defense, big hits and a flair for the dramatics. Exciting stuff, and we're only wrapping up the Division Series!