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NYY@DET Gm4: V-Mart cranks a solo homer in the fourth

DETROIT -- The score suggested the Tigers had squandered their chance to take this American League Division Series. They were blown out in a 10-1 loss to the Yankees on Tuesday night before a sellout crowd at Comerica Park.

The calm in the Tigers' clubhouse suggested something else -- a confident team ready to head to New York and take one more shot.

The look from Don Kelly showed he gave his best shot to help Detroit end the ALDS on Tuesday. An old teammate and longtime friend took it away.

"He made a heck of a play," Kelly said of Curtis Granderson's tumbling catch in deep center field to strand the bases loaded in the first inning. "There's really not much you can do as a hitter. You just go up there and put a good swing on the ball.

"I mean, I don't think I really could've hit it any better than I did, and he made heck of a play. Sometimes, you get broken-bat singles, and I would've taken one of those in a heartbeat. But I squared it up, and he made a good play."

Kelly wouldn't quite say it turned the game.

"I mean, it's not like if Curtis doesn't make that catch, we win the ballgame," Kelly said.

If it didn't necessarily win it, others strongly believed it turned it.

"Unbelievable play," Alex Avila called it. "He was a game-changer out there."

Manager Jim Leyland called it "the key out in the game."

Brandon Inge called it "a second chance" for Yankees starter A.J. Burnett, who was responsible for walking the bases loaded and the ball that nearly cleared them.

"If you're pitching that game right there, and you see that play, as soon as it's hit, you're thinking, 'Devastation,'" Inge said. "So then, he makes that play, and now you have a zero on that board. No matter what happened, that's a zero. And he can sit in that dugout between innings and go, 'All right, I've got a second chance now.' It probably motivated him a little bit, too."

The pitcher the Tigers saw in that opening inning threw twice as many balls as strikes. Take away the intentional walk he gave Miguel Cabrera with first base open and two outs, and he still threw 11 of 18 pitches for balls, because he followed Cabrera's walk with an unintentional walk of Victor Martinez.

He threw back-to-back fastballs to Kelly, batting sixth in place of Magglio Ordonez. The first fastball ended up down and in. The second wandered over the plate, then Kelly sent it on a line to straightaway center.

"Right away, I thought he hit it right to me," Granderson said. "I took a step in and froze. It started to get some air."

The ball had enough topspin that it seemingly kept rising on Granderson, who went into full retreat as soon as he realized it would be over his head. Eventually, he left his feet and made a tumbling catch behind him.

It wasn't the kind of highlight catch Tigers fans grew accustomed to seeing him make during his five seasons in Detroit. Granderson's diving catch in the sixth inning to rob Jhonny Peralta of extra bases in the gap in left-center field was a closer resemblance to that. But the impact of the first catch was quite familiar.

Granderson used to bring crowds at Comerica Park to their feet with catches like it. This one sat them down in silence. In the end, it broke their hearts.

"That was a huge out right off the bat," Leyland said.

Burnett had just six Rick Porcello pitches to gather himself before the bottom of the second. From there, he looked like a completely different pitcher.

Burnett used just 60 pitches, 42 of them for strikes, to record 14 outs over the next 18 batters. He reached just two three-ball counts over that stretch -- to Delmon Young for a two-out walk in the third inning and to Martinez on his leadoff homer in the fourth that accounted for Detroit's only run.

"Maybe it took me 25-30 pitches to get loose, I don't know," Burnett said. "I was just letting it go. And if it didn't go for a strike, it didn't go. I wasn't worried about it. I got the ball and was able to do it again. I was able to find a rhythm after that."

In the process, he fulfilled Leyland's fear that he had the capability of shutting down his offense. Burnett wasn't effectively wild, just effective.

"He got his command," Kelly said. "I mean, the first inning, he kind of struggled a little bit, but then he was throwing strikes. He was using all three of his pitches, which makes it tough, especially when he was throwing 93-94 mph."

Porcello, who hails from New Jersey and is the son of Yankees fans, did his best to keep pace. He retired the first six Bombers he faced, but he hit Jorge Posada and allowed a single through the middle by Russell Martin to set up New York's initial scoring in the third inning. Derek Jeter's two-run double put the Yankees ahead before Granderson's RBI double put them in command.

A six-run eighth inning put it out of reach, sending the fans home and the Tigers on their way to New York on Wednesday, preparing for a Thursday night battle in the Bronx that will decide who advances to face the Rangers in the AL Championship Series. First pitch of Game 5 is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET on TBS.

The Tigers didn't sound like they felt the series was slipping away, though they lamented not clinching it in front of their own fans. They sounded like a team that was ready for it to come down to this, ready for one more shot.

"It doesn't surprise me that the series is going five games," Leyland said. "That doesn't surprise me at all."

It also can't surprise them that their former All-Star helped get it there. Comments