The 2012 American League Championship Series was a best-of-seven playoff pitting the New York Yankees against the Detroit Tigers for the American League pennant and the right to play in the 2012 World Series. The series, the 43rd in league history, began on Saturday, October 13 in New York and ended on Thursday, October 18 in Detroit. The Tigers won the series 4–0. TBS televised all games in the United States. In global markets, MLB International broadcast the ALCS in its entirety, with long-time Baltimore Orioles announcer Gary Thorne and ESPN's Rick Sutcliffe calling the games.
This was the third postseason meeting between the Yankees and the Tigers, but the first in the ALCS. The Tigers previously beat the Yankees in the 2006 ALDS (3–1) and the 2011 ALDS (3–2). The last appearance for each team in the ALCS resulted in a loss to the Texas Rangers; the Yankees in the 2010 ALCS and the Tigers in the 2011 ALCS.
Detroit won the series, 4–0.
†: postponed from October 17 due to rain
Saturday, October 13, 2012 – 8:07 p.m. (EDT) at Yankee Stadium in Bronx, New York
The Yankees threatened in the first inning when they loaded the bases, but Jhonny Peralta robbed Alex Rodriguez of an RBI single with a diving stop to end the inning. Peralta also took away a run in the second when, with the bases loaded and two outs once again, Robinson Canó hit a ball that glanced off the wrist of Tiger starter Doug Fister and caromed to shortstop. Peralta fielded it and just nipped Canó at first, which was revealed to be the wrong call. The Yankees would leave the bases loaded for the third time in the game in the sixth inning, and were 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position, with the only hit being an infield single that did not score a run.
Fister threw shutout ball into the seventh inning, scattering six hits. Postseason veteran Andy Pettitte almost matched him, pitching five shutout innings for the Yankees before giving up RBI singles to Prince Fielder and Delmon Young in the sixth. A solo home run by Delmon Young and an RBI single by Avisail García in the eighth off Derek Lowe and Boone Logan gave Detroit a 4–0 lead. In the bottom of the ninth, Detroit brought in José Valverde to get the final three outs.
Russell Martin led off the Yankees ninth with a single, and Ichiro Suzuki followed two batters later with a home run to cut the lead in half. Canó then struck out for the second out, and Valverde got to 0–2 on Mark Teixeira before walking him. Raúl Ibañez hit a game-tying home run, forcing extra innings.
Rafael Soriano and David Robertson each pitched one scoreless inning out of the bullpen, but the Yankees could not capitalize off Tiger relievers Octavio Dotel and Drew Smyly. Detroit finally broke the tie in the top of the 12th on a Delmon Young double off David Phelps, which scored Miguel Cabrera. Six pitches later, Derek Jeter broke his left ankle while stopping a groundball from Peralta, forcing him to miss the rest of the postseason. One batter later, Andy Dirks drove in an insurance run on a chopper that glanced off Phelps' pitching hand for an infield single. The Tigers held on to their two-run lead in the bottom of the 12th, to take the series' first game. Despite the loss, Ibañez's clutch homers in both the ALDS and ALCS brought him distinction as the only player to ever hit three home runs in the ninth inning or later in one postseason.
This was Derek Jeter's 158th and final playoff game.
Sunday, October 14, 2012 – 4:07 p.m. (EDT) at Yankee Stadium in Bronx, New York
Hiroki Kuroda retired the first 15 Detroit Tigers he faced and held the Tigers scoreless through six innings, allowing only one hit and no walks while striking out eight—including seven of the first nine batters. The Tigers' Aníbal Sánchez was nearly as efficient, allowing three hits, striking out five and walking two.
The Tigers finally broke through with a run off Kuroda in the seventh. Quintin Berry doubled to lead off the inning, and advanced to third on a single by Miguel Cabrera. After Kuroda struck out Prince Fielder, Delmon Young hit an RBI force out, on which the potential double play relay throw was mishandled by Robinson Canó.
Yankees Manager Joe Girardi was ejected by second base umpire Jeff Nelson in the top of the eighth after arguing a call at second base which television replays confirmed was incorrectly ruled. The play would have resulted in the inning's third out, and the Tigers took advantage by getting two insurance runs on RBI singles by Avisail García and Miguel Cabrera.
Prior to the game, Tiger manager Jim Leyland stated that struggling closer José Valverde, who had allowed seven runs in his last two postseason appearances, would not close Game 2 if the situation called for it. He instead used Phil Coke over the final two innings in this game, and Coke earned the save.
The Yankees' lineup continued its struggles in Game 2. Robinson Canó, batting second for the first time since September 2010, grounded out in all four times at bat, with this 0-for-4 performance resulting in an 0-for-26 hitless streak—the longest such barren streak in any single year of postseason play in MLB history. Alex Rodriguez took a called third strike on a changeup in the second and struck out on a foul tip in the fourth, dropping to 2-for-21 with no RBIs in the postseason, including 0-for-18 with 12 strikeouts against right-handers. Curtis Granderson fanned twice, falling to 3-for-25 with 13 strikeouts.
Tuesday, October 16, 2012 – 8:07 p.m. (EDT) at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan
Game 3 saw Justin Verlander pitch for the third time against the Yankees in postseason play. In the previous season's Division Series, Verlander struck out eleven batters, but in the process, he expended 120 pitches and gave up four runs. This time around was no different, as the Yankees waited out pitches and struck out only three times against him. Nonetheless, Verlander took a shutout into the ninth inning. He allowed only a pair of singles by Ichiro Suzuki and a leadoff homer by Eduardo Núñez in the ninth. After Brett Gardner grounded out on Verlander's 132nd pitch of the night, the Tigers starter was lifted for Phil Coke. Coke induced a grounder from Suzuki for the second out of the inning, but then gave up consecutive singles to Mark Teixeira and Robinson Canó. (Canó's single ended a personal 0-for-29 slump.) Postseason star Raúl Ibañez worked Coke to a 3–2 count before striking out on a slider, giving Coke his second save in two games.
Delmon Young hit a solo home run (his seventh post-season home run with the Tigers), and Miguel Cabrera had an RBI double. Yankees starter Phil Hughes was lifted in the fourth because of a stiff back, and manager Joe Girardi's lineup shuffle had Alex Rodriguez benched again.
The home run by Núñez ended a streak of 30 1⁄3 scoreless innings by Tigers starters in the postseason, breaking the 1974 record of 29 innings set by the Oakland Athletics. The Tiger starters had also gone 37 straight innings without surrendering an earned run.
Thursday, October 18, 2012 – 4:07 p.m. (EDT) at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan, originally scheduled for Wednesday, October 17, 2012 - 8:07 p.m. (EDT) and was postponed due to rain.
Game 4 saw Detroit come out swinging early. Taking a 2–0 lead into the fourth inning, the Tigers broke this game open with a pair of two-run home runs by Miguel Cabrera and Jhonny Peralta. Yankee starter CC Sabathia exited after just 3 2⁄3 innings. The Tigers' Max Scherzer, meanwhile, maintained a no-hitter until the sixth inning, and struck out 10 batters in his 5 2⁄3 innings of work. The Yankees drove in one run in the sixth, when a triple by Eduardo Núñez was followed by a Nick Swisher double. Austin Jackson homered in the seventh inning, and Peralta closed the Tigers' scoring with his second homer, a solo shot in the eighth to give the Tigers an 8–1 lead. Former Yankee Phil Coke, who was on the 2009 World Series championship team, closed the game by pitching the final two innings, finishing the series and handing the Yankees their first postseason series sweep since the 1980 American League Championship Series, when they were swept by the Kansas City Royals. It was also the first time the Yankees were swept in a best-of-seven series since the 1976 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds.
Delmon Young, who hit .353 in the series with two home runs and six RBI, was named ALCS MVP for 2012.
The Yankees finished the 2012 postseason hitting a dismal .188, including batting only .157 against Tiger pitching in the ALCS. Tiger starters allowed only two earned runs in the ALCS, posting a 0.66 ERA. Miguel Cabrera set a major league record by having at least one hit in all 17 of his League Championship Series games, besting the previous mark of 15 shared by Manny Ramirez and Pete Rose. Cabrera has also reached base safely in all 20 of his postseason games with the Tigers, a team record.
2012 ALCS (4–0): Detroit Tigers over New York Yankees