Tigers finish off sweep of Yankees to advance to World Series

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We know one team who will still be alive next Wednesday.

Finishing off a thoroughly dominating performance, the Tigers topped the Yankees 8-1 at Comerica Park today to sweep the ALCS in four games and advance to the World Series.

CC Sabathia is a pretty good pitcher to have on your side facing elimination, but he just didn’t have it today. The big southpaw didn’t get much help from his defense, especially in the third inning, but he gave up six runs (five earned) on 11 hits and two walks over just 3 2/3 innings. This included a pair of two-run homers by Miguel Cabrera and Jhonny Peralta in the bottom of the fourth inning. Not a good time for Sabathia’s shortest outing of the season.

While Sabathia struggled, Max Scherzer was dominant over his 5 2/3 innings of work. He didn’t allow a hit until the top of the sixth inning and struck out 10. The Tigers pounded out 16 hits on the day, just six less than the Yankees had for the entire series. Peralta socked a pair of homers while seven out of the nine hitters in Jim Leyland’s lineup had at least two hits.

The pathetic output from the Yankees’ lineup has naturally received much of the attention nationally, but the Tigers’ rotation deserves plenty of credit for shutting them down. Scherzer, Justin Verlander, Doug Fister and Anibal Sanchez combined to allow just two runs over 27 1/3 innings during the series. That’s a 0.66 ERA.

While things got a little interesting in Game 1, this was one of the more dominating series victories you’ll see. The Tigers are the fifth team in MLB history to sweep a best-of-seven series while never trailing and the first to do it since the Red Sox swept the Cardinals in the 2004 World Series. This is the first time the Yankees have been swept in a seven-game series since the 1976 World Series against the Reds. They were swept in three games by the Royals in the 1980 ALCS.

The Tigers will have a little while to rest before Game 1 of the World Series next Wednesday night. They’ll start the series on the road and will meet either the Cardinals or the Giants.

Seattle Mariners to make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani

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Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a team-sponsored podcast the other day that the M’s will make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani. To that end, Dipoto said that the M’s would be willing to let the two-way star to pitch and to hit, which is something Ohtani is interested in doing in the United States. Not all clubs are likely to let him do this, with most likely seeing him as a starting pitcher only.

Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, possibly as early as today, can sign with anyone he wants. He is, however, subject to the international bonus pool caps, so the bids on him will be somewhat limited. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available: $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees. The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million left. Twelve teams — including the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Astros — are limited to a maximum of $300,000, having met or exceeded their caps for this signing period already.

Ohtani, however, is said to be less motivated by money than he is by finding the right situation. While a lot of guys say that, the fact that Ohtani is coming over to the U.S. now, when his financial prospects are limited, as opposed to waiting for two years when he is not subject to the bonus caps and could sign for nine figures, suggests that he is telling the truth. As such, a team like the Mariners that is willing to allow him to hit and pitch could make up for the couple of million less they have in bonus money to spend.

As for how that might work logistically, Dipoto said that the team would be willing to play DH Nelson Cruz a few days in the outfield to accommodate Ohtani, allowing him to DH on the days he’s not pitching. That might be . . . interesting to see, but given how badly the Mariners could use a good starting pitcher, they have an incentive to be creative.

Ohtani, 23, suffered some injuries in 2017, limiting him to just five starts and 65 games as a hitter. In 2016, however, he hit .289/.356/.547 with 22 homers in 342 at-bats and went 11-3 with a 3.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 146/51 in 133.1 innings as a starter.

Five clubs have more money to spend on Ohtani than the Mariners do. None of those teams are on the west coast, which some Asian players have said in the past they preferred due to faster travel back home. The Mariners, owned for a long time by a Japanese company which still retains a minority interest in the club, and long the home for high-profile Japanese players such as Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma, likely have a better media and marketing reach in Japan than most other teams as well, which might be a factor in his decision making process. Is all that enough to sway Ohtani?

We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.