Wham, bam, thank you John Hicks, and welcome back from Toledo.
Hicks, who has joined the Tigers again to replace the traded Alex Avila, will be performing split duty as backup catcher and first baseman. Tonight in New York he showed both defensive and offensive flash with a monster catch at first, and a three-run blast to give the Tigers an early lead in the game.
I’m not going to start saying insane things like Hicks will be able to completely replace Avila, but he’s shown he won’t just quietly take meaningless at-bats. He’s here to play, he’s here to contribute, and in a diminished Tigers lineup that’s precisely the kind of player the team wants to have around.
The pitching matchup was a veritable who’s who of guys who were great in five years ago. Anibal Sanchez faced off against CC Sabathia, and both were stung by home runs. Sabathia gave up the 3-run home run to Hicks, then a solo shot to Justin Upton. Sanchez gave up a two-run shot to Didi Gregorius, putting the Yankees two runs behind.
It was another solid outing for Sanchez, who pitched into the seventh inning and aside from the home run was efficient and in the zone. He never threw more than 19 pitches in a single inning. His final line for the night was 6.2 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 HR, 101 pitches. Not bad.
Bruce Rondon pitched an inning of relief, threw hard, and didn’t hit anyone. Good job, Bruce.
Alex Wilson is evidently going to be the new eighth inning guy, but was unable to fulfill the role tonight, giving up a double to Gary Sanchez in the bottom of the eighth (aided by a Justin Upton error). Manager Brad Ausmus was unwilling to tempt fate and pulled Wilson with the runner in scoring position. Didi Gregorius was having a night, though, and managed to score Sanchez on a well-placed single. 4-3 Tigers and Daniel Stumpf was gone after one pitch.
Shane Greene got to show his closer skills for the first time, but needed to get through the eighth first. A five-out save? Sure, why not! How about a groundout double play to end the eighth inning? Shane Greene can get you a groundout double play.
McCann tried to run home in the top of the ninth but just barely missed being safe. No one’s fault, he had to run and Brett Gardner’s throw was just spectacular.
Greene came on for the bottom of the ninth to finish the job he started in the eighth, and proved most certainly he had a five-out save in him. His pitches touched 98. Except he walked Beardless Jacoby Ellsbury, then threw a pitch away at first letting Ellsbury advance to third. Gardner was walked intentionally so Greene could face rookie Clint Frazier. Frazier popped out to Dixon Machado and Greene collected his first save.
John Hicks, of course. I mean, come on.
John Hicks lifts one over Aaron Judge (and the right field wall). pic.twitter.com/1C14uRsyzw— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) August 2, 2017
While we’re admiring home runs, here’s Upton’s solo homer that went into one of the quietest Yankee crowds I’ve ever heard.
Justin Upton goes down and gets the pitch from CC Sabathia and golfs it over the wall in left as a fan makes a nice catch on the home run!!! pic.twitter.com/5SuIrDxqBH— TheRenderMLB (@TheRenderMLB) August 2, 2017
Not many to be had here, offense and defense were both doing their jobs. Pitching was on point. Tigers are looking good still in spite of the missing pieces.
STREAKS & INFO:
Not related to current players, but while we were all watching this game, former Tiger Austin Jackson completed the catch Torii Hunter tried to make on David Ortiz’s grand slam in the 2013 ALCS in Boston. Just... behold:
Watching this Austin Jackson catch over and over. Wow. pic.twitter.com/DvyVF6eEpz— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) August 2, 2017
In actual Tigers news, Justin Upton’s home run is his 18th of the season, so he’s certainly on pace to clear 30 this year.
Apparently, at the ripe old age of 30, Alex Wilson is now the oldest player in the Tigers bullpen.