Scherzer (1-0), making his first post-season appearance, held the Yankees to two hits, overcoming four walks and striking out five as the Tigers forged a 1-1 tie with New York in their best-of-five, first-round playoff series.
The Tigers, however, had to hang on in the ninth as closer Jose Valverde allowed two runs -- including a solo homer by Nick Swisher -- in a steady rain.
But the reliever struck out Robinson Cano with a runner on to end the contest and gain the save.
New York's Freddie Garcia (0-1) was saddled with the loss, yielding four runs on six hits over 5 1/3 frames.
The series now shifts to Detroit where the two teams will meet again Monday for Game 3.