Aggressive Tigers come up short vs. Yankees

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Just remember: At this point in the season, it's not about the results.

Some days being aggressive on the base paths pays off and some days it doesn't. It didn't Friday when the Tigers dropped a 7-4 Grapefruit League game to the Yankees, but that's not really a concern for new Tigers manager Brad Ausmus.

"I told (third base coach Dave Clark) in spring not only do we need to know what these guys can do, but they need to find out what they can do," Ausmus said. "That was a situation where Clarky wouldn't have done that if it was April. But we know going in we were going to have this aggressive style in spring training and not fault someone for getting thrown out or taking a chance. That applies to Clarky, too."

Four plays in particular come to mind: The first when Miguel Cabrera saw the third baseman shying too far from the bag when Victor Martinez walked in the first inning. Cabrera was thrown out at third. After doubling in the third, Torii Hunter tried to score on a single by Cabrera, but he was thrown out on a close play at the plate. In the sixth, Steven Moya tried to turn a single into a double when the ball went off the glove of a diving Yankees left fielder. He, too, was thrown out. Finally, in the eighth, Eugenio Suarez was thrown out at home on a throw by the Yankees right fielder.

"We want them to take chances now," Ausmus said. "You hope that creates kind of an overall mentality of baserunning for the team that we're always trying to go the extra 90 or 180 feet.

"It gets refined as players understand what they can or can't do. Third day of spring training exhibition games? Let's go after them. Let's force them to make the play and they made the plays today."

The Yankees, or at least a minor-league facsimile of players wearing the jerseys, meanwhile showed off a bit of power with a pair of home runs that landed on the berm, another that hit the wall of the batting cages beyond right field, and one that snuck just a bit over the right field fence.

Brian McCann -- that was the long homer -- hit a 2-0 pitch off Tigers starter Max Scherzer in the second inning.

"Anything can happen in your first time out," Scherzer said. "You can practice all you want, you can face life BPs, until you get on the mound facing opposing hitters in live game situations, nothing really matters," Scherzer said. "This is when you actually get a feel for what you've been working on this whole offseason and what it's like in game situations. You can come out here and walk the house or you come in and be dominant. You just never know what's going to happen at this point."

Scherzer's final line: One hit, one run, two strikeouts and seven batters faced.

Better news is that Scherzer felt pretty good about all his pitches.

"I really thought I was pitching with four pitches today. You don't anticipate having a feel for all four the first ime you go out. I'm in a really good position right now to have a feel for all of my offspeed pitches."

That's certainly good news for now, but it would be better news if it were his last start before the regular season, Ausmus said.

"I've seen it come and go," said the 18-year catcher. "The key is you hope when you get to the final start of spring all pitches have kind of been honed in and you're ready to go into the season ready to command them all. but it will still escape them once in a while, where they won't have one of the pitches."

Scherzer stressed the need for consistency rather than results at this point.

"You don't put stock in any results," Scherzer said. "You look at the process. And the process is trying to get all your pitches how you want to execute them, trying to attack the zone and throw first pitch strikes, and locate your fastball. When you're able to do that, that's a success."

Jose Ortega allowed a run for the Tigers in two innings on the mound, and Luis Marte gave up four in 1 1/3. Corey Knebel didn't allow any in the ninth inning, but he did walk two of the five batters he faced.

Moya had three hits and Ben Guez two. Cabrera went 1-for-2 with a walk and a strikeout.

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