Rapid Reaction: Yankees 10, Tigers 1

October, 4, 2011
10/04/11
11:48
PM ET

Recap | Box score | Photos

What it means: That there will be at least one more baseball game in New York after A.J. Burnett pitched the Yankees into Thursday and Derek Jeter helped slug them to a 10-1 victory in a must-win Game 4 at Comerica Park. Now, it's up to a rookie, Ivan Nova, to lead them through Game 5 at Yankee Stadium. But after Burnett's performance, obviously anything is possible and, probably, highly likely.

A.J.-Palooza: Pitching his most important game as a Yankee -- remember, he pitched Game 2 of the 2009 World Series, not a potential elimination game -- Burnett comes up huge, pitching 5 2/3 innings of four-hit ball, walking four and striking out three. He pitched a better game on Tuesday than CC Sabathia did on Monday.

Captain Crunch: Jeter's two-run double over the head of Austin Jackson in center in the third inning was not only the biggest hit of the game, it was a flashback to the Jeter of 1996-2000, the one who truly owned the postseason.

Who needs a hit? Alex Rodriguez had three RBIs before he collected his first hit of the ALDS, the latest coming on a sacrifice fly to center with the bases loaded in the fifth inning. A-Rod's previous two RBIs had come on infield ground outs.

Thanks, Curtis: That's what Burnett should be saying to his center fielder, who probably kept Burnett in the game in the first inning with a spectacular over-the-head catch of Don Kelly's line drive to deep center with the bases loaded, and again after A.J. left the game in the sixth with a runner on first. This time, Jhonny Peralta hit a sinking liner to left-center off Rafael Soriano that Granderson had to lay out full-length for. He showed some real hang time and snagged the ball just before hitting the ground with his chest, ending the inning and saving a run.

Some protection: Having A-Rod continue to bat cleanup is supposed to be protection for Robinson Cano, the No. 3 hitter, but it turned out otherwise Tuesday night when Jim Leyland walked Cano to load the bases because he would rather try his luck with A-Rod, who is No. 2 on baseball's all-time list for grand-slam homers with 22 (Lou Gehrig is the grand-slam champ with 23). Even though A-Rod got a run home with a sac fly to center, it said it all about who the Tigers think is the more dangerous hitter in the Yankees' lineup.

Things go better with Coke: Former Yankee Phil Coke almost single-handedly cured the slump in the heart of the order, allowing singles to A-Rod, Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher in the eighth. The three hits raised the collective batting average of the Yankees' 4-5-6 hitters in the ALDS from .081 to .150. When A-Rod collected a second single in the inning, the number rose to .171. Coke's ineffectiveness was followed by the ineptitude of Al Alburquerque, who balked a run home, allowed an RBI single and walked a batter as the Yankees busted the game open with six tack-on runs.

Hay-soos in the house: Jesus Montero saw his first postseason action, batting for Jorge Posada in the eighth, and singled to drive in the Yankees' sixth run of the game. Montero had another single in the ninth and is batting 1.000 in the ALDS.

It's OK to be Sori: Rafael Soriano rebounded from his Game 3 misfortune by throwing a perfect 1 1/3 innings in relief of Burnett. Phil Hughes saw his first action, pitching a clean eighth, and Boone Logan finished up by striking out the side in the ninth. The Yankees' pen threw 3 1/3 perfect innings and struck out six.

What's next: Flight home Tuesday night, unclear whether there is a workout at the Stadium on Wednesday, and then The Decider, Game 5, Thursday night in the Bronx: Nova vs. RHP Doug Fister. It's a rematch of the Game 1 continuation, won by the Yankees, 9-3, in which Nova worked 6 1/3, allowing just two runs.
Wallace Matthews has covered New York sports since 1983 as a reporter, columnist, radio host and TV commentator. He covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com after working for Newsday, the New York Post, the New York Sun and ESPN New York 98.7 FM.
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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Masahiro Tanaka
WINS ERA SO IP
12 2.51 135 129
OTHER LEADERS
BAB. Gardner .281
HRM. Teixeira 18
RBIM. Teixeira 50
RB. Gardner 68
OPSB. Gardner .813
ERAM. Tanaka 2.51
SOM. Tanaka 135