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 Detroit Tigers 10-1 Tuesday night to send their AL playoff 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 center field, preventing at least three runs.
Game 5 is Thursday night in New York. Rookie righthander Ivan Nova, who shut down the Tigers in the opener, is expected to start against Doug Fister. Nova and Fister both came on as relievers Saturday after Game 1 started Friday night but was halted after 1 1/2 innings.
Saved by Granderson’s glove, Burnett allowed a run and four hits in 5 2/3 innings before turning it over to the bullpen.
Granderson was on the Detroit team that went to the World Series in 2006, but the Tigers traded the popular outfielder to the Yankees as part of 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.
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 center field. 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.
Burnett is in the third season of a five-year, $82.5 million contract. He’s been largely a disappointment, but he gave the Yankees the start they needed with the season on the line.
Rafael Soriano relieved him 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 one, 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.
Jeter struck out to end Game 3 with the potential tying run on second, putting New York in a 2-1 hole in the series. He bounced back to give the Yankees an early boost Tuesday.
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 disputed the call with plate umpire Dan Iassogna for a bit, but 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.
After holding the Tigers hitless through three innings, Burnett allowed Victor Martinez’s leadoff homer in the fourth. One out later, Peralta doubled down the left-field line, but Burnett struck out Alex Avila and Wilson Betemit to end the inning.
Martin and Gardner led off the fifth with singles. After Jeter bunted into a force play at third, Granderson doubled to right, driving in a run.
Alex Rodriguez added a sacrifice fly to make it 4-1.
Porcello allowed four runs and five hits in six innings.
The Yankees broke it open with six runs in the eighth. Detroit reliever Al Alburquerque balked in a run, and the Yankees added two more on singles by pinch-hitter Jesus Montero and Gardner.
Daniel Schlereth allowed a run later in the inning when his wild pitch bounced all the way over the screen, and Robinson Cano’s two-run single sent fans at Comerica Park toward the exits.
NOTES: Rodriguez, hitless in the series coming into the game, had a pair of singles. … Burnett, who threw 25 wild pitches during the regular season, was charged with another in the fourth. The ball actually bounced only a few feet away from Martin, but the catcher had a hard time finding it and Peralta went from second to third. … At 22 years, 9 months and 7 days old, Porcello became the youngest Detroit pitcher to start a postseason game. … Former Detroit closer Todd Jones took the mound in a Jose Valverde jersey before the game and threw the ceremonial first pitch, then ho pped off and tried to mimic one of Valverde’s dance moves.