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10/06/06 11:20 PM ET

Tigers Short Hops: Game 3

Rogers' unforgettable performance pulls ALCS berth closer

DETROIT -- Fielding the Tigers' Game 3 victory over the Yankees on a short hop ...

In < 25 words ...
Kenny Rogers was simply dominant, and the Tigers bats beat up Randy Johnson early. Now the Tigers can close this series out at home.

Frozen moment
Rogers got Bobby Abreu looking at strike three on an outside fastball for the second out of the eighth inning, and manager Jim Leyland came out to pull the veteran from one of the more impressive starts of his long career. Rogers pumped his fist into his glove as he walked off the field, then gave a salute to the adoring crowd. Clearly, this was one inspired outing.

Big number
Fourteen. The number of consecutive innings that Tigers pitchers have held the potent Yankees lineup scoreless, since Johnny Damon's three-run homer in Game 2. So much talk of this series centered around that lineup of All-Stars, but the Tigers' arms have grabbed the spotlight.

Game balls (out of five)
Rogers, five. His changeup and breaking ball on the outside edges often made the Yankees look silly. He also had a decent enough fastball to keep the Yanks on edge. Not bad for a 41-year-old guy with a reputation for faltering in the postseason.

Ivan Rodriguez, four. The man they call Pudge didn't do much of anything at the plate at Yankee Stadium, but he came back strong in the return home. He singled and scored in the second and came through with a huge two-out, RBI double in the sixth.

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Sean Casey, four. Casey has struggled to make much of an impact in Detroit's lineup since being acquired midseason from Pittsburgh, but he had two big hits in this one -- an RBI single in the first and a two-out, RBI double in the sixth.

Curtis Granderson, four. The youngster just continues to deliver on the big stage. His solo shot in the seventh off Brian Bruney pretty much finished this game off.

Sense of October
Tigers fans had waited no fewer than 19 years for playoff baseball to return to the Motor City. Their well-rested vocal cords provided the perfect backdrop to the Tigers' heroics on the field. With the crowd on its feet after Rodriguez's RBI double in the sixth, Casey came through with an RBI double of his own, and the crowd went wild. The fans and the bats had rattled Johnson, who was officially knocked out of this ballgame.

Lines of the Game
4 AB, 2 R, 2 H, 1 2B, 1 BB, 1 RBI
Comment: That's more like it. Rodriguez turned in a performance more befitting of his personal playoff standards.

7 2/3 IP, 0 R, 5 H, 2 BB, 8 Ks
Comment: It was no gamble for the Tigers to give the ball to The Gambler. He shook off his postseason rep and his history of struggles against the Yankees by blanking New York for 7 2/3 incredible innings.

"We have had 43,000 [fans in attendance] before, but this was totally different. It seemed like there were 100,000 people out there, and it got to the point where we could not hear anything. And that's exactly the way we wanted it to be." -- Granderson, on the vocal home crowd

Next step
It could be a party in Motown on Saturday night, as the Tigers have an opportunity to knock off the Yankees and move on to the ALCS against the A's. To do so, Detroit will need right-hander Jeremy Bonderman to rebound from his rough outing in the season finale.

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.