DETROIT — Prince Fielder waved his arms frantically, gleefully calling off his teammates while the crowd at Comerica Park roared.
From the moment the big first baseman signed his massive contract in January, an entire city had been waiting for a chance to celebrate like this. After another dazzling effort by Detroit’s starting pitchers and another soaring home run by Miguel Cabrera, Fielder caught the final out to send the Tigers to the World Series — with a sweep of the New York Yankees, no less.
“There’s still along way to go but this is an awesome feeling," Fielder said.
Max Scherzer capped a stupendous stretch for Detroit’s rotation, and the Tigers won their second pennant in seven years by beating the Yankees 8-1 Thursday for a four-game sweep of the AL championship series.
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 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 Jim Leyland — who is in the final year of his contract — while owner Mike Ilitch rubbed the 67-year-old manager’s right shoulder.
“I’ve got a great bunch. We don’t have one hot dog in the bunch," the pizza magnate said. “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 headed 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, with a big league-high $222 million payroll, hit .188 in the postseason — a record low for a team that played at least seven games — and .157 in the LCS. New York went quietly in the ninth inning, with the Comerica crowd chanting “Sweep!" while the last three batters were retired 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, lost slugger Victor Martinez to a season-ending knee injury in January and quickly replaced his offense by signing Fielder. The excitement of that bold acquisition 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.
“I just reminded everybody when we took our punches all year, ‘You know what? Let’s just wait till the end, and then if we have underachieved, I will be the first one to admit it,’" Leyland said. “So hopefully we’ve quieted some doubters now. The guys just stepped it up when we had to. We caught a couple breaks when the White Sox couldn’t win a couple of games they needed to win."
In the postseason, Detroit’s 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 our 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, without a World Series title since 2009, 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 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 three for 25 (.125) playoffs with no RBIs.
New York owes the 37-year-old Rodriguez $114 million over the next five years. His contract includes a provision that requires he approves trades, and he wants to stay.
“I love New York City and I love everything about being a Yankee," he said. “The highs are very high and the lows are extremely low."