On Saturday night, the Tigers resembled the AL Central team the Yankees had gotten used to pummeling in the Division Series.
But Sunday brought a reminder that the Tigers aren't the Minnesota Twins and -- though done with a smile that called into question its seriousness -- a guarantee of sorts from Detroit's colorful closer.
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Led by a surprisingly dominant six innings-plus from Max Scherzer and a not-at-all-surprising standout effort from Miguel Cabrera, who homered and had three RBIs, the Tigers beat the Yankees, 5-3, in ALDS Game 2 before 50,596 at the Stadium.
"Oh, yeah, it's over already," Valverde told a group of reporters, according to cbssports.com. "The Yankees have a great team, but I think that's it for them."
The best-of-five series, tied at a game each, heads to Detroit, with CC Sabathia facing Justin Verlander in Monday night's Game 3. A.J. Burnett -- perhaps with the season on the line -- will oppose Rick Porcello Tuesday night.
In Monday night's game, fans presumably will see longer versions of the matchup of aces they got in Game 1, which was suspended by rain after 1½ innings Friday.
"Tomorrow night's a huge game," Mark Teixeira said of Game 3. "You don't want to go down two games to one with them having a chance to close out the series in their park."
"We need to go out there and find a way to win a game," said Derek Jeter, who had a rough day, going 0-for-5 with two strikeouts and committing a key error after a 2-for-5, three-run performance in Game 1.
"A lot of people talk about Game 3 being the most important game of a series all the time," Joe Girardi said. "It's real important."
Cabrera, the lesser-discussed of the Tigers' AL MVP candidates -- Verlander, the likely Cy Young Award winner, has been the most promoted -- blasted a two-run homer off Freddy Garcia in the first inning to give the Tigers the lead for good and had an RBI single as Detroit scored twice in the sixth for a 4-0 lead.
"I thought that was a good pitch, down and away," Garcia said of the 2-and-0 slider that wound up in the rightfield seats. "Great hitters do that."
Scherzer, 15-9 with a 4.43 ERA this season, did not allow a hit until Cano's opposite-field bloop single with one out in the sixth. He was pulled after Nick Swisher walked and Jorge Posada singled to start the seventh, but Joaquin Benoit retired three straight to get out of the inning.
Curtis Granderson's homer off Benoit in the eighth made it 4-1. Valverde, who had 49 saves in as many tries and a 2.24 ERA this season, began the ninth with a 5-1 lead and withstood a wild inning in which the Yankees got the go-ahead run to the plate.
Valverde allowed a home run by Swisher on the first pitch he threw, making it 5-2. Posada followed with his first career postseason triple, a towering drive over the head of centerfielder Austin Jackson.
That kept the remaining crowd, which endured a heavy rain shower in the seventh, on its feet. And Posada barely on his. "Scary at first," Derek Jeter joked of watching his longtime friend leg out the triple.
Granderson popped a 2-and-0 pitch into foul ground near the Detroit dugout, where catcher Alex Avila had a play on the ball. Then his feet went out from under him as he stepped on the on-deck mat and the ball dropped a few feet away. With the count full, and heavy rain again beginning to fall, Granderson walked to bring up Cano, who hit a grand slam and drove in six runs with three two-out hits in Game 1.
Cano took a strike, fouled off three straight, then chopped a grounder to second to end it. Said Teixeira, "You can't come through every time."
But the Yankees had better do so against Verlander or their season will be in Burnett's hands.
"They're a good team," Alex Rodriguez said. "They're not going to roll over and we're not either."