Tigers blast Yankees, move on to World Series

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Tigers blast Yankees, move on to World Series

DETROIT (AP) Prince Fielder waved his arms franticly, gleefully calling off his teammates before catching the final out.

From the moment Fielder signed his massive contract in January, an entire city had been waiting for a moment like this.

Max Scherzer capped a stupendous stretch for Detroit's starting rotation, and the Tigers advanced to the World Series for the second time in seven years by beating the New York Yankees 8-1 Thursday for a four-game sweep of the AL championship series.

Miguel Cabrera and Jhonny Peralta hit two-run homers in a four-run fourth inning against CC Sabathia, who was unable to prevent the Yankees from getting swept in a postseason series for the first time in 32 years.

"Yeah, we did it," Cabrera said. "It's an unbelievable feeling. ... Four more wins, guys. Four more wins."

Scherzer took a no-hit bid into the sixth against a New York starting lineup that was again without Alex Rodriguez, who flied out with two on in the sixth as a pinch hitter.

Austin Jackson added a solo shot in the seventh for Detroit, and Peralta hit another homer an inning later.

The game ended with Fielder, Detroit's 214 million acquisition, catching Jayson Nix's popup. The Tigers spilled onto the field for a celebration that began near second base and eventually moved closer to the third-base line.

General manager Dave Dombrowski hugged manager Jim Leyland - who is in the final year of his contract - while owner Mike Ilitch rubbed Leyland's right shoulder.

"I've got a great bunch," Ilitch said. "We don't have one hot dog in the bunch. They're all great guys. ... The Tigers are something special."

Detroit won its 11th American League pennant and first since 2006. The Tigers have five days off before the World Series starts Wednesday at defending champion St. Louis or 2010 winner San Francisco.

After scoring in just three of 39 innings during the series, New York heads home to face unpleasant questions about its future following a postseason of awful hitting, benched stars and veterans showing the wear and tear of age. Rodriguez, the 275 million third baseman, was out of the starting lineup for the third time in the playoffs. Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera could only watch following season-ending injuries.

The Yankees hit .188 in the postseason and .157 in the LCS. New York went quietly in the ninth inning, with the Comerica Park crowd chanting "Sweep!" while the last three batters made out in order.

Detroit outhit New York 16-2 in the finale and 46-22 in the series. The Tigers' starters are 4-1 with a 1.02 ERA in this postseason.

Without a World Series title since 1984, Detroit lost to Texas in last year's ALCS and then signed Fielder in the offseason. The excitement of that bold move subsided a bit when the Tigers struggled to a 26-32 start in the AL Central, but they overtook the Chicago White Sox in the final 10 days of the regular season and won the division with an 88-74 record, matching the Cardinals for the fewest wins among the 10 playoff teams.

In the postseason, their rotation has been impeccable. Scherzer, Justin Verlander, Anibal Sanchez and Doug Fister allowed only two earned runs against the Yankees. New York was shut out once and totaled six runs in the series.

"Unbelievable. It's why we're here right now because out pitching," Cabrera said. "Wow!"

Scherzer allowed a run and two hits in 5 2-3 innings in the finale, struck out 10 and walked two.

"I really had my changeup and my slider going," he said. "When I can combine that with my fastball, that's what makes me effective."

The Yankees lost Jeter to a broken ankle in the opening game, and the slumping Rodriguez was benched for Game 3. He was out of the starting lineup for Game 4 too, but A-Rod did have one last chance to turn his postseason around when Scherzer was lifted for left-hander Drew Smyly with two outs in the sixth and the Tigers up 6-1.

As Smyly finished warming up, Rodriguez popped out of the dugout to pinch hit for Raul Ibanez, but with runners at the corners, he hit a routine fly to center field. He grounded out in the ninth, completing a 3 for 25 (.125) playoffs with no RBIs.

The Yankees failed to win a game in a postseason series for only the fifth time. They hadn't been swept since a best-of-five ALCS against Kansas City in 1980. The last team to sweep four straight against them had been Cincinnati in the 1976 World Series.

Detroit also beat New York in the division series in 2006 and last year. The Tigers became the first team to win three straight postseason series against the Yankees, according to STATS, LLC.

New York never led in this series - the only other time that's happened to the Yankees was when they were swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1963 World Series.

After a rainout Wednesday, Game 4 started under a sunny sky, and Detroit immediately took the lead on series MVP Delmon Young's RBI single. Young became the first player with four game-winning RBIs in one postseason series, STATS said.

Avisail Garcia drove in an unearned run in the third with a single before the Tigers broke it open in the fourth. Cabrera, the first Triple Crown winner in 45 years, made it 4-0 with a towering drive to left field. Peralta drove in two more runs with his shot to the same part of the ballpark.

After Andy Dirks doubled, Sabathia was pulled. He allowed five earned runs and 11 hits in 3 2-3 innings.

When the fourth inning finally ended, the crowd at Comerica gave the Tigers a standing ovation, sensing that an even bigger celebration wasn't too far off.

Scherzer made sure of that. The right-hander was terrific down the stretch for the Tigers before his throwing shoulder acted up near the end of the regular season. He made it through 5 1-3 innings in the division series against Oakland without allowing an earned run, then kept the Yankees off the scoreboard until Eduardo Nunez tripled in the sixth for New York's first hit and scored on Nick Swisher's double.

Swisher, likely playing his last game with the Yankees, was 1 for 35 with runners in scoring position in his postseason career before that hit. He struck out with two on and two outs in the third.

About the only thing the Yankees had done well in this postseason was pitch, and Sabathia failed to keep that going. He didn't have much help from his defense. Teixeira, a four-time Gold Glove winner at first base, misplayed two grounders in the third - one for an infield hit and one for an error.

New York's hitting was abysmal thoughout the playoffs. Robinson Cano was at .075 (3 for 40) with no home runs, including a 29 at-bat hitless streak. Curtis Granderson 3 for 30 with 16 strikeouts, Nick Swisher .167 (5 for 30) with two RBIs and Russell Martin .161 (5 for 31) with one RBI.

NOTES: Detroit closer Jose Valverde, who allowed four runs in Game 1, did not pitch again in the series. ... Cabrera has a hit in a record 17 straight LCS games. He's reached base in all 20 of his postseason games with the Tigers, a team record. ... Sabathia was 4-0 in his previous eight postseason starts. ... Thursday was the 35th anniversary of Reggie Jackson's three-homer game for the Yankees in the World Series against the Dodgers. ... New York scored seven runs at Baltimore in the division series opener, then was held to four or fewer in the next eight games. The Yankees' longest previous stretch like that in postseason play came in 2001, when they were held to four or fewer run in all seven games of the World Series by Arizona.

World Series Avenue: This rap from a Cubs minor leaguer is the freshest thing you'll hear all day

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World Series Avenue: This rap from a Cubs minor leaguer is the freshest thing you'll hear all day

Cubs fans aren't the only ones living and dying with every pitch.

John Williamson - a pitcher for the Cubs' Class-A affiliate in South Bend - created a rap about the big-league club and it's pretty incredible:

South Bend pregame freestyle. Go check out my guy @johnny_beisbol #SBCubs #whenithappens #embracetheflow

A video posted by Darnell McDonald (@macdime54) on

Here's an excerpt of that rap, posted by Darnell McDonald, the Cubs' mental skills program coordinator:

"'Bout to win 100 games,
J-Hey 'bout to make a play, 
Lester get the K, 
We feelin' fresh today, 
Got the 'dub' yesterday. 
New team with the World Series attitude. 
Road to the 'ship: That's the World Series avenue. 
I'm feelin' like the baddest dude, 
Fowler on the bases, 
Yeah, we winnin' pennant races, 
That's the Wrigley renovation."

Killin' it, dude.

This isn't new for Williamson, the Cubs' 23rd-round pick in the 2015 MLB Draft.

The left-handed pitcher is actually a rapper, too, by the name of Swilson (formerly J Willy).

His album hit iTunes and Spotify in February. 

Check out some of his stuff on his YouTube page.

Here's to more Cubs raps as the year goes on, Swilson.

Recruiting News and Notes: Jacub Panasiuk nearing college decision

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Recruiting News and Notes: Jacub Panasiuk nearing college decision

Jacub Panasiuk (DE), Lake Park

Panasiuk (6-foot-4, 260 pounds) recently announced that he will make his college choice on June 14.

"I decided that I'm going to make my college choice on June 14th," Panasiuk said. "That's my birthday and I'm just getting closer to wrapping things up. June 14th also happens to be my birthday and I just feel like that's the right time to make my decision."

Panasiuk, along with East St. Louis junior wide receiver Jeff Thomas (5-foot-10, 170 pounds), remain the only uncommitted players in the Rivals.com Early Spring Top 20 Class of 2017 State of Illinois rankings. Panasiuk discussed what factors will help land his services.

"Over the past two years of going on visits everywhere and talking to coaches, I've realized that facilities and all the fancy stuff doesn't really matter," Panasiuk said. "Every school will end up having the same things. It will be how comfortable I am with the coaching staff at the school. I think having a close relationship with the coaches is a key factor in all of this."

Panasiuk, the older brother of Mike Panasiuk who signed with Michigan State, has offers from the Spartans along with several other Big Ten schools. Panasiuk added that he will narrow down his list of favorite schools "very soon."

Joe Spivak (DT), Montini Catholic

Spivak (6-foot-1, 292 pounds) added his second offer this week from South Dakota State. Spivak, who's father Joe played for Illinois State back in the 80's, also landed his first offer from his dad's alma matter. So is it safe to assume that the younger Spivak is a "lock" for Illinois State?

"A lot of people think that I'm a done deal for Illinois State," Spivak said. "I love Illinois State but honestly I'm looking at all of my options for now. I'm just not in a big hurry and I want to see how my recruiting shakes out."

Spivak has drawn recruiting looks from Northwestern, Miami of Ohio, Air Force, North Dakota State and Ball State, along with several Ivy League schools.

Charlie Schmidt (OG), Libertyville

Schmidt (6-foot-4, 270 pounds) was able to add his first offer late last week from Iowa State.

"I was pretty surprised," Schmidt said. "I talked to one of the assistant coaches on Thursday and they offered me the following day."

The sophomore offensive guard also has a serious connection to the Cyclones.

"My teammate Tyler Jost just committed to Iowa State. Also Coach (John) Kuceyeski is from Libertyville so we have a pretty good connection to Iowa State at our school. I know that they have good coaches and a good tradition at Iowa State The Iowa State coaches want me to come out and visit. I don't have anything set just yet but I'll get out to visit them soon."

Schmidt has also drawn recruiting interest so far this spring from Michigan State, Central Michigan and Illinois State.

Marist Notes

Marist head coach Pat Dunne has been putting in some serious time with college coaches this spring. Marist is already touring three DI recruits in junior linebacker Micah Awodiran, junior offensive guard Bill Kuduk (Central Michigan) and junior defensive back Robert Topps and you can now add junior defensive tackle Elijah Teague (6-foot-3, 292 pounds) to the FBS recruit listing as Teague was able to add his first offer from Iowa State.

"Iowa State was able to see me work out at school and they offered me a few days later," Teague said. "I don't know too much about the school but I do have family that lives in Carroll, Iowa which is like 30 to 45 minutes away from Ames. I've been to Ames before and I've seen the school and it looks nice. The Iowa State coaches want me to come out to visit and I'll try to get out to visit them this summer."

Next? Cubs sweep Pirates out of PNC Park

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Next? Cubs sweep Pirates out of PNC Park

PITTSBURGH – Next? The Cubs just dominated a Pittsburgh Pirates team that’s won 280 games and made three playoff appearances across the last three seasons, showing they’re so much more than a good-looking team on paper and baseball’s goofiest clubhouse.

Joe Maddon’s “Minimalist Zany” road trip ended with Wednesday afternoon’s 6-2 win at PNC Park, the Cubs finishing off the three-game sweep before changing into the leopard pants, plaid coats and Stars and Stripes outfits required for the flight back home to Chicago and a showdown against the Washington Nationals.

The Cubs spent close to $290 million on free agents after beating the Pirates in last year’s National League wild-card game, budgeting for the natural improvement from their young players and the experience gained during that playoff run.

The Cubs outscored Pittsburgh 20-5 during what was supposed to be three tension-filled games, bumping their run differential to plus-93 for the season. Did the Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals do enough to keep up in the Central? Is this really the game’s toughest division? Still see you in October?

The Cubs are getting contributions from all over their roster. Ben Zobrist – who took over right field while Jason Heyward rested his sore right wrist – blasted a three-run homer off Juan Nicasio in the third inning. Javier Baez went 3-for-5 with two RBI and put on a defensive clinic during this series. If not for Jake Arrieta’s historic run and Cy Young Award encore performance, more people would be talking about Jon Lester’s fast start, improving to 3-1 with a 1.58 ERA after 5.2 scoreless innings. 

At 20-6, the Cubs have the best record in baseball, a six-game lead over the Pirates in the division and a four-game series against the Nationals that begins Thursday night at Wrigley Field. Maybe that will create some buzz.

It means the return of Dusty Baker – no manager has pushed the Cubs farther or closer to the World Series since 1945 – and side-by-side comparisons of Boras Corp. clients Max Scherzer ($210 million guaranteed) and Arrieta (the meter is still running).   

Plus the friendly rivalry between Bryce Harper and Kris Bryant, the league’s reigning MVP and Rookie of the Year who grew up together in Las Vegas playing with and against each other.

And Jonathan Papelbon, the eccentric closer the Cubs tried to trade for last summer before the Nationals flexed their financial muscle (only to watch it sabotage their clubhouse without the buffer zone of ex-Boston Red Sox players the Cubs could have created).

“It’s just so much fun to play good teams,” Maddon said. “You get them on the field and then you look out there from the dugout: How do we stack up? What does this thing feel like? You look on TV, you read different things, but you got to actually see it.”

The rest of the baseball world is just beginning to see what this sleeping-giant franchise could become.