Missed Opportunity Ties Series at 2

The Tigers loaded in the bases in the bottom of the first and had an opportunity to blow the game open early. But a great snag by Curtis Granderson on a Don Kelly line drive kept the Tigers off the board, and so died what would become their best scoring opportunity of the night, resulting in the Tigers headed to New York for the series deciding game.

Momentum, Jim Leyland is fond of saying, is tomorrow's starting pitcher.

Which means Detroit's momentum and the fate of its season is going to rest in the hot right arm of Doug Fister on Thursday in New York when the Tigers and New York Yankees play the final game of their best-of-five American League Division Championship series.

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

"Hopefully that suit I bought three or four days ago will be fixed now. I can pick it up when I go back."

The Tigers might not have had to go back to New York had not ex-Tiger Curtis Granderson made one of those catches in center Tigers fans saw so much of when he played for them.

A.J. Burnett had walked the bases loaded in the first inning when Don Kelly came up and smoked a 1-0 pitch on a low but rising line to center. Straight at Granderson.

"It's funny," Leyland said. "Sometimes you pick a key out in the game, and I think the key happened in the very first inning. Donnie Kelly smoked that ball, and Grandy made a good play.

"If it would have gotten over his head and he had fallen down, it might have been an inside-the-park home run."

"I think he's made that catch against me when he played here in Detroit," Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter said. "If that ball gets over his head, it's three runs scored."

"I froze," Granderson said. "Then I took a step in. Then it started to get some air. Then it kind of went up. I ended up having to leave my feet, which I didn't want to."

He snared the liner in the tip of the webbing and landed on the outfield grass. But the inning was over.

And so, as it turned out, was Detroit's best chance to terminate the series at four games. Now Detroit has to win in New York on Thursday night to earn a weekend in Texas.

NOTES, QUOTES

--RHP Rick Porcello turned in a solid performance although he was charged with four runs in six innings. "I thought Porcello really threw the ball well," manager Jim Leyland said. "He made a bad pitch to Derek (Jeter) on the double. He actually pitched well, to hold that team down like he did." Porcello pitched aggressively and mixed his pitches well. His mistakes didn't fare so well, however. He gave up a two-run double in the third to Jeter on an 0-1 pitch he got up. CF Curtis Granderson took advantage of a high pitch, too, lining it for an RBI double in the two-run fifth. Porcello also allowed a sacrifice fly to 3B Alex Rodriguez on an 0-2 pitch that was up in the same inning.

--RF Don Kelly almost was a hero. He came up with the bases loaded and two out in the first against struggling RHP A.J. Burnett. Kelly took ball one, then hit a low but rising line drive that CF Curtis Granderson broke in on before realizing the ball was over his head. He reversed and retreated, diving toward center and flagging down the ball in the tip of his glove while going backward. Kelly also singled to right, knocking out Burnett in the sixth.

--DH Victor Martinez accounted for Detroit's only run, lining a 3-1 fastball into the seats in right for a home run leading off the fourth. He also drew a walk in the first that loaded the bases.

--RHP Al Alburquerque has not shown the sharp, killer slider he displayed so much during the regular season. Alburquerque gave up a grand slam on a hanging slider in the first game of the divisional playoffs with New York. He came in during the eighth inning of Game 4 and again had a flat and ineffective slider. He faced just two batters, giving up an RBI single, committing a balk and walking a batter on four straight pitches. He's unlikely to pitch in the fifth game.

--LHP Phil Coke worked a scoreless inning and a not-so-scoreless inning of relief in New York's 10-1 smashing of Detroit. He got through a four-batter seventh unscored upon but gave up three straight singles before being relieved in the eighth. All three scored as the Yankees went from 4-1 to 10-1.

--CF Austin Jackson got his first hit of the Division Series after 10 hitless at-bats. Jackson lined a single to left leading off the fifth but was immediately erased on a double play. He walked for the fourth time in the series, too.

--C Alex Avila is 0-for-12 in the divisional round of the playoffs after an 0-for-3 fourth game. Manager Jim Leyland has dropped him to eighth in the batting order. He was taken out for C Omir Santos in the ninth.

BY THE NUMBERS: .143 -- Batting average by New York's left- and switch-hitting players off RHP Rick Porcello. The six such hitters the Yankees had facing Porcello, who allowed a .321 batting average to lefties during the regular season, were only 2-for-14 off him.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's funny. Sometimes you pick a key out in the game and I think the key happened in the very first inning. Donnie Kelly smoked that ball and Grandy made a good play. If it would have gotten over his head and he had fallen down, it might have been an inside-the-park home run." -- Manager Jim Leyland on the game-turning catch CF Curtis Granderson made on RF Don Kelly's sailing line drive to center with the bases loaded and two out in the first.