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.
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 Park crowd chanting "Sweep!" while the last three batters were retired in order.
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.
"We all know what's at stake, we all know every single game's different, we need to go out there and pitch our best," Scherzer said. "When we do that, that's when we give the team a chance to win."
Scherzer allowed a run and two hits in 5 2-3 innings, struck out 10 and walked two.
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. His groundout in the ninth capped a 3-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 approve 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."
The Yankees failed to win a game in a postseason series for only the fifth time. They hadn't been swept since a best-of-five ALCS against Kansas City in 1980. The last team to sweep four straight against them had been Cincinnati in the 1976 World Series.
After a rainout Wednesday, Game 4 started under a sunny sky, and Detroit immediately took the lead on series MVP Delmon Young's RBI single in the first. Young became the first player with four game-winning RBIs in one postseason series, according to STATS, LLC.
About the only thing the Yankees had done well in this postseason was pitch, and Sabathia failed to keep that going. He didn't have much help from his defense. Mark Teixeira, a four-time Gold Glove winner at first base, misplayed two grounders in the third — one for an infield hit and one for an error.
New York's hitting was abysmal throughout the playoffs. Robinson Cano was at .075 (3 for 40) with no home runs, including a 29 at-bat hitless streak. Curtis Granderson was 3 for 30 with 16 strikeouts, Nick Swisher hit .167 (5 for 30) with two RBIs, Russell Martin hit .161 (5 for 31) with one RBI and Eric Chavez finished 0 for 16 with eight strikeouts.
"It wasn't one guy. It wasn't two guys," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "It was a bunch of guys."
NOTES: Cabrera has a hit in a record 17 straight LCS games. He's reached base in all 20 of his postseason games with the Tigers, a team record. ... Sabathia was 4-0 in his previous eight postseason starts. ... Thursday was the 35th anniversary of Reggie Jackson's three-homer game for the Yankees in the World Series against the Dodgers. ... New York scored seven runs at Baltimore in the division series opener, then was held to four or fewer in the next eight games. The Yankees' longest previous stretch like that in postseason play came in 2001, when they were held to four or fewer runs in all seven games of the World Series by Arizona.