DETROIT — Curtis Granderson made two spectacular catches against his former team and A.J. Burnett came through when the Yankees needed him most, leading New York past the Tigers 10-1 Tuesday night to send their AL Division Series back to the Bronx for a decisive Game 5.
Derek Jeter rebounded from a game-ending strikeout Monday, putting the Yankees ahead to stay with a two-run double in the third inning. Granderson also had an RBI double and New York broke it open with six runs in the eighth.
Shaky all season, Burnett started only because Game 1 was suspended by rain Friday. He was in trouble in the first after loading the bases on walks, but Granderson made a leaping grab of Don Kelly's line drive in centerfield, preventing at least three runs.
Saved by Granderson's glove, Burnett allowed a run and four hits in 52/3 innings before turning it over to the bullpen.
"We don't win that game without defense," Burnett said.
Granderson was on the Detroit team that went to the World Series in 2006, but the Tigers traded the popular outfielder to the Yankees in a three-team deal after the 2009 season. Max Scherzer, a pitcher Detroit received in the deal, left his mark on this series with an impressive Game 2 start. Then it was Granderson's turn.
After hitting 41 home runs during the regular season to become an MVP contender, Granderson made his biggest impact Tuesday with his glove.
The Yankees didn't plan to start Burnett in this series, but they didn't have much of a choice after Game 1 took two days to finish. So they sent the erratic right-hander to the mound, hoping for the best.
"I was thrilled for him, but I was thrilled for us. What he did, 5 2/3 and only giving up that one run, a great performance. Struggled a little bit in the first inning and then really settled down nicely," manager Joe Girardi said. "I was proud of what he did. In a must-win situation for us, he pitched one of his best games of the year."
New York's worst fears appeared justified in the first. In fact, the Yankees bullpen was already stirring when Burnett walked three hitters, one intentionally, to bring up Kelly with two outs and the bases loaded.
Kelly — a surprise addition to the Detroit lineup — hit a hard line drive to centerfield. Granderson appeared to misjudge the ball at first before backing up and jumping at the last second to rob Kelly of an extra-base hit.
Former Ray Rafael Soriano relieved Burnett in the sixth, and Jhonny Peralta lifted a fly to left-center. Granderson came sprinting over and made a diving catch even more impressive than the first, sliding across the outfield grass on his belly after making the grab. He appeared shaken up for a bit afterward but stayed in the game.
The Yankees had lost five straight postseason road games when facing elimination, starting with Game 7 of the 2001 World Series at Arizona. New York was eliminated in Game 4 at Detroit in the 2006 Division Series, but the Tigers couldn't pull off a repeat performance.
Detroit starter Rick Porcello hit Jorge Posada with a pitch to start the third, and Russell Martin followed with a single. Brett Gardner struck out looking, and Jeter hit a drive to deep center that speedy Austin Jackson wasn't able to run down. Both runners scored on the double to give New York a 2-0 lead.
Burnett allowed Victor Martinez's leadoff homer in the fourth. One out later, Peralta doubled, but Burnett struck out Alex Avila and Wilson Betemit.
Tigers 2, Yankees 2
Game 1: Yankees 9, Tigers 3
Game 2: Tigers 5, Yankees 3
Game 3: Tigers 5, Yankees 4
Tuesday: Yankees 10, Tigers 1
Thursday, 8:37: Tigers (Fister, 11-13, 2.83) at Yankees (Nova, 16-4, 3.70), TBS