The New York Yankees beat Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers 5-1, taking the rubber game of their 3 game series. Phil Hughes out pitched Verlander, tossing a complete game, evening his record at 5-5. Verlander's streak of 6 plus inning starts rose to 54, but the loss dropped his record to 5-4, his 3rd consecutive defeat. The last time Verlander has lost 3 consecutive games was in July and August of 2008.
Magglio Ordonez threw out the first pitch after a wonderful retirement ceremony in front of a sellout crowd. Then the game started, and all the good feelings drained out of Comerica Park faster than a Verlander fastball.
Speaking of which...
Verlander's first pitch of the game was deposited by Derek Jeter over the right field fence. His 6th home run of season set the tone of what was to be a long, sad, depressing afternoon.
For whatever reason, Verlander had command issues. Turns out he's human, after all. Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez followed Jeter's home run with walks. Verlander then crossed up Omir Santos, the resulting passed ball moved the runners over. Mark Teixeira's sac fly sent Granderson home and gave the Yankees a 2-0 lead.
In the 3rd inning, the Yankees' extended their lead to 3-0. Rodriguez blasted his 9th home run of the season off the brick wall in deep left center, hitting between Greenberg and Gehringer.
The Tigers finally countered in the 4th, making it a 3-1 game. Prince Fielder crushed a Hughes breaking ball far into the right field seats. It was Fielder's 9th home run of the season.
Feel free to cue up Yakkity Sax while you read the next couple of paragraphs.
With 1 out in the 5th, Granderson lined a double into the right field corner.. With 2 outs, Robinson Cano hit a high, hanging fly ball to right center, but neither Quintin Berry or Brennan Boesch could get to it, dropping for a triple, scoring Granderson. Danny Worth's relay throw skipped past Miguel Cabrera and Verlander, smack into the Tigers' dugout. Worth was charged with an error, while Cano strolled home to make it a 5-1 game.
Talk about team play...all bad. Berry and Boesch looked lost on the fly ball, not sure who was going to take it. Worth's relay short hopped Cabrera. But Cabrera couldn't even get in front of the throw, just waving his glove at the ball. Verlander was backing up the play, but couldn't keep the ball out of the dugout.
The was more defensive ridiculousness in the 7th. The Tigers botched what should have been a strike 'em out, throw 'em out double play. Jeter was running on the pitch, stopped, yet somehow beat the throw back to 1st base. Once Yakkity Sax stopped playing, Jim Leyland pulled Verlander (6.1 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 6 K) for Duane Below, his streak of 6 plus inning starts intact at 54.
To Below's credit, he was flawless, throwing a perfect 1 2/3 innings, holding the Yankees at bay. Brayan Villarreal was fine in relief as well. He allowed a lead off double, but struck out 2 of the next 3 Yankees in the 8th, stranding the runner. Refreshing to see after last night's bullpen boondongle.
While the Yankees (and Tigers' defense) were making Verlander look like Phil Hughes (5.64 ERA going into the game), Hughes was pitching like the Verlander we normally see. Hughes tossed a complete game, striking out 8, allowing just 4 hits. He was never in serious trouble, the only mistake being Fielder's big fly.
This was not how I expected the Tigers to respond after a walk off win, especially with Verlander on the mound and the team honoring Magglio Ordonez. But nothing about this season has gone as expected, so why should today be any different?