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New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi takes the ball from starting pitcher Phil Hughes after Hughes suffered his worst start in several games. The Yankees lost their second straight and their lead in the AL East is down to 4.5 games. (Image: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE)

Yankees' rally falls short in ninth as slide continues

Since the All-Star break the Yankees have been unable to put together a streak to remind everyone how good of a team they really are. Last night, in a 6-5 loss to the Detroit Tigers they at least showed some heart scoring two runs of Tigers closer Jose Valverde while getting the lead-run in scoring position.

When teams are playing poorly, they have to look at the positives and try to grow from them. The ninth inning last night and production from the lower portion of the lineup are a couple items the Yankees can take away from the loss which dropped their lead in the American League East to 4.5 games (five in the loss column) over the Baltimore Orioles who finished off their rally with a walk-off hit in the 14th inning of their game.

The Yankees felt confident with Phil Hughes on the mound last night. Hughes was performing at a high level entering the contest and there were no signs of let up last night until he was reached for four runs between the fourth and fifth innings.

The Yankees held a 2-0 lead after a laser beam opposite field home run off the bat of Eric Chavez in the top half of the fourth. Hughes had held the Tigers offense scoreless for their first time through the lineup. The second time was not as smooth. Miguel Cabrera, who destroys just about any Yankee pitcher on the mound, launched his 29th homer of the season to left field to lead off the bottom of the fourth. The Tigers knotted the score at two after a Jhonny Peralta RBI-double.

Hughes has said that solo homers can’t hurt him too much and he wouldn’t allow another during his outing, but Cabrera got to him again in the fifth. After allowing back-to-back singles to open the frame, Cabrera drilled a double to left clearing the bases, giving the Tigers a 4-2 lead. That was Hughes’ last batter for the night as his pitch count was at 102 with only one out in the fifth.

So, for the second straight night the Yankees didn’t get any length from their starter. To make matters worse the bullpen was shaky, coughing up two more runs over the final four innings, including a crucial insurance run in the bottom of the eighth off Joba Chamberlain.

Valverde came on with a three-run lead and the middle part of the Yankees’ order due up. Valverde got Mark Teixeira to pop up to third for the first out, but Chavez laced a single up the middle for his second hit of the night. Nick Swisher struck out, the first time he was retired during the contest, but Raul Ibanez had a great plate appearance drawing a nine-pitch walk. Ichiro Suzuki lined a single up the middle to bring home Chavez and Russell Martin followed with a double into left field scoring Ibanez.

The Yankees now had the go-ahead run in scoring position. Up came Curtis Granderson, who was hitting leadoff again for the Yankees. He was 0-for-9 in the series with 5 strikeouts entering the at-bat, but Valverde was tiring and on the ropes. This is the situation Yankees fans feel Granderson should be hitting in, but he couldn’t come through as he popped Valverde’s 33rd pitch of the ninth straight up in the air and into Prince Fielder‘s glove for the final out.

The Yankees (63-46) hope that their ace, CC Sabathia (11-3, 3.53 ERA) can give the bullpen a break and get the team back on the winning side of the ledger tonight. He’ll face newly acquired righty Anibal Sanchez (1-1, 4.50 ERA with Detroit) as the Tigers (60-50) look to extend their six-game winning streak.

Tags: Anibal Sanchez CC Sabathia Curtis Granderson Detroit Tigers Eric Chavez Jhonny Peralta Joba Chamberlain Jose Valverde Mark Teixeira Miguel Cabrera New York Yankees Nick Swisher Phil Hughes Prince Fielder Raul Ibanez Russell Martin Yankees

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