The Detroit Tigers crushed the New York Yankees last night to clinch a place in the World Series - giving Motown something to sing about after years of hard times.

Detroit was in full party mode after the Tigers mauled the Yankees 8-1 to complete an unlikely 4-0 sweep in the best of seven ALCS series.

They return to the World Series for the first time in six years where they will face either the St Louis Cardinals or San Francisco Giants. St Louis currently leads that series 3-1.

After leading the American League in wins and setting a team record for home runs, the Yankees could not do much of either against the Tigers,

The Yankees, who scored just six runs in four ALCS games with four of those coming in Game One, were swept from a post-season series for the first time since the 1980 ALCS against the Kansas City Royals.

Part of the reason for the Yankees lack of hitting can be traced to a Tigers starting pitching rotation that combined for a miniscule 1.02 ERA in the ALCS, giving up just two earned runs in four games.

Certainly the most scrutinised and debated call made by the Yankees skipper was his decision to bench struggling All-Star third baseman Alex Rodriguez three times during the post-season.

Rodriguez, Major League Baseball's highest-paid player with earnings this season of $29 million, stands fifth on the home run list with 647 - but went 3-for-25 without an extra-base hit or RBI in the playoffs.

Already under fire for his lack of production, Rodriguez drew the wrath of Yankees fans after local media reported he flirted with two female spectators during Game One of the ALCS, while he has also been the subject of media speculation into a possible trade to the Miami Marlins.

Detroit savours unexpected win

More than most American cities, Detroit has felt the full force of America's economic meltdown and painfully slow recovery but fans and players alike are hoping a first World Series title in 28 years can help lift the city.

"We did it, Detroit," said Detroit slugger Miguel Cabrera, who this season became the the first Triple Crown winner since 1967 - leading the American League in home runs, batting average and RBI.

"It's what we worked for all year, trying to get to this point. Hopefully we'll win the World Series for Detroit.

"We always believed we could do it and we believe we can do it in the World Series, four more wins."

"Just wait till the end ... if we have underachieved, I will be the first one to admit it" - Jim Leyland

Despite a lineup that included Prince Fielder, who signed a massive nine-year $214 million deal in the off season, a return to the World Series seemed unlikely as the Tigers sputtered towards the end of their inconsistent 162-game season.

After running away with the Central division last season and strolling into the playoffs with a 15-game lead, the Tigers were expected to dominate again but instead spent large parts of the campaign languishing below .500 chasing the Chicago White Sox.

Detroit's 88 victories were the joint fewest of any of the 10 teams to qualify for the playoffs and if not for a fantastic surge that saw them win eight of their last 10 to overhaul the crumbling White Sox (loser of 11 of their last 15) would have watched their season end in bitter disappointment.

"I just reminded everybody when we took our punches all year, let's just wait till the end and then if we have underachieved, I will be the first one to admit it," said Tigers manager Jim Leyland. "But let us play out the schedule to see if we underachieve.

"So hopefully we've quieted some doubters now.

Despite the tough-times and one of the United States highest unemployment rates, Tigers fans have been among the Major League's most loyal, passing three million in attendance for the third time in six seasons this year.

With the National Hockey League Detroit Red Wings locked out, the National Football League Lions fighting to find their form and the NBA Pistons rebuilding, it has been left to the Tigers to restore the city's sporting pride as they chase their first World Series title since 1984.