NEW YORK – The Detroit Tigers survived a tense trip back to the Bronx, with Jose Valverde and the bullpen holding on time and time again to beat the New York Yankees 3-2 Thursday night to win the deciding Game 5 of their AL playoff series.
Don Kelly and Delmon Young hit consecutive home runs in the first inning, then the Tigers spent the rest of a tense game trying to preserve their lead.
They did – barely – and advanced to the AL championship series against Texas.
Joaquin Benoit followed Max Scherzer in the seventh and walked Mark Teixeira with the bases loaded, pulling the Yankees within a run.
Benoit struck out Nick Swisher with a 95 mph fastball to keep the lead.
After Brett Gardner singled with two outs in the eighth, Derek Jeter flied out to Kelly just in front of the right-field wall.
Valverde pitched the ninth for his second save of the series, remaining perfect in 51 chances this year.
After Valverde struck out Alex Rodriguez to end it, the Tigers’ closer crouched and pumped both arms as his teammates ran out to celebrate.
Detroit won in its first all-or-nothing postseason game since beating St. Louis in Game 7 of the 1968 World Series.
With the Tigers vying for their first World Series title since 1984, ace Justin Verlander will start the ALCS opener at Texas on Saturday night against the Rangers’ C.J. Wilson.
Doug Fister, who lost to Ivan Nova in the opener, stranded six runners in the second through fourth innings, then allowed Robinson Cano’s solo homer into the right-field second deck in the fifth.
Young left the game in the seventh inning because of a mild strain of his left oblique.
Young popped out to end the top of the seventh but did not go out to take his position in the field. He was replaced by Ryan Raburn.
In the first inning, Young followed Kelly with the second of back-to-back homers . It was Young’s third homer of the series.
In 40 games for the Tigers, Young hit eight homers and had 32 RBI.
Young was 2 for 4 with a single Thursday.