Yankees rally and then fall in ninth to Tigers 4-3


The New York Yankees staged a ninth-inning rally without getting a hit to tie the game, but then allowed a game-winning sacrifice fly to Omir Santos as the Detroit Tigers won the middle game of the three-game series, 4-3.

This game had a little bit of everything. There was solid starting pitching from both teams, mammoth home runs off the bat of Miguel Cabrera, ejections, and late-inning drama. Unfortunately for the Yankees, there was the all too familiar failures with runners in scoring position that are beginning to become more of a trademark than a trend.

The Yankees had several chances to take the lead and make a winner out of Hiroki Kuroda. Kuroda pitched seven innings, allowing two earned runs off seven hits while walking one batter. He struck out four and gave up one of Cabrera’s moonshots. Kuroda was only at 86 pitches when Tony Pena, who was managing the team after Joe Girardi was tossed, went to the bullpen after the Yanks tied the game at 2 in the eighth.

Girardi and hitting coach Kevin Long were ejected in the seventh inning, a frame which embodied the Yankees issues with hitting in RISP. With men on second and third and Curtis Granderson at the plate, a pitch down and away was called a strike by home plate umpire Bob Davidson. On the next pitch Granderson fouled a ball off near the Yanks dugout. Long did not like the strike call and voiced his feelings from the dugout while Davidson was in range. Davidson made it known that he didn’t like being argued with and told Long he “didn’t like to be talked to that way”, according to Girardi. Long was tossed and Girardi ran out to the field to back his hitting coach. Girardi was very upset and several times moved around other umpires who were trying to keep Girardi away from Davidson. Once the dust settled, Granderson struck out swinging and Alex Rodriguez popped up to second base to end the inning and the threat.

In the top of the eighth the Yankees finally came through with a runner in scoring position as Nick Swisher roped a line drive to right center field to score Mark Teixeira from second base after he had been walked and moved to second on a force out. Swisher then went ahead and stole second base and moved to third on the errant throw from Santos. Andruw Jones struck out to end the inning.

Pena went to Cory Wade to start the eighth and he looked very good for the first two batters. But, with two outs, up came Cabrera who unleashed on a 2-1 changeup which was down and possibly out of the zone. Cabrera’s second tape measure shot of the night ended up in the booth well up and behind the center field wall. The distance to dead center field in Comerica Park is 420 feet.

Down 3-2, the Yankees would have to mount their comeback against Tigers closer Jose Valverde. To suggest that the Yankees had their chances to do some real damage in the inning is an understatement. Valerde was all over the place. He hit two batters and issued a walk wrapped around an fly out from Granderson. With the bases loaded Robinson Cano lifted a pop to short for the second out bringing Teixeira to the plate. Tex did what Granderson and Cano didn’t and that is let Valverde make the mistake. Both Granderson and Cano swung at pitches early in the at-bat when it was evident to everyone that Valverde couldn’t find the zone. Teixeira eventually worked a walk to tie the score at three. Raul Ibanez was next and grounded out to first base to end the inning.

With the score now tied, the Yankees brought in rookie David Phelps. This is a tough situation for any pitcher let alone a rookie who is trained as a starting pitcher. Phelps allowed back-to-back singles to Brennan Boesch and Jhonny Peralta putting runners at first and third with one out. Pena went to Boone Logan with Don Kelly set to hit. Tigers manager Jim Leyland countered with Ramon Santiago, who was intentionally walked after Logan got behind in the count. That brought up Santos, who lifted a fly ball deep enough to score Bosch for the winning run.

The loss dropped the Yankees record to 28-24 but they remain 1.5 games back in the AL East. The Tigers upped their record to 25-28 and picked up a game (now five back) on AL Central leading Chicago White Sox.