On a night where Miguel Cabrera pulled to within one of the storied 3,000 hit plateau, the Tigers dropped the second game of the series to the New York Yankees 5-3 and their third straight game overall. Eduardo Rodriguez started for Detroit and threw his first quality start of the season, but once again the offense left much to be desired, and the defensive effort was poor. Luis Severino started for the Yankees, and although he wasn’t on his A-game, the Tigers let him off the hook on multiple occasions across his five innings.
Cabrera had a banner night as he continues his quest to become the best singles hitter in the league. I say that somewhat in jest, but his ISO is .056 this year while he’s been worth 133 wRC+. He went 3-4 on the evening, tallying hits 2,997, 2,998, and 2,999 for his illustrious career. Cabrera is looking to become the third member of the 3,000 hits, 500 home runs, and .300 career batting average club, joining two absolute legends in Hank Aaron and Willie Mays.
Just take a second to think about that. Hank Aaron and Willie Mays. As Tigers fans, we’ve had the privilege to watch Cabrera for much of his career, and for him to be on the cusp of joining a list that includes only those two proves just how incredibly special of a career he’s had.
The Tigers jumped on the board in the second, but ran themselves out of a potentially big inning. After a lead-off double from Jeimer Candelario and an infield single — yes, an infield single — from Cabrera, Victor Reyes roped an RBI single to right field to plate Candelario. Cabrera, clearly feeling his new-found speed, was thrown out by Judge trying to advance to third on the hit. With Spencer Torkelson batting, Reyes then got caught stealing.
Rodriguez got into trouble in the third inning by allowing a lead-off double to Isaiah Kiner-Falefa and then a four-pitch walk to Kyle Higashioka. For a guy who has been known as a strike thrower throughout his career, Rodriguez has had a tough time locating so far for the Tigers. With one out, Aaron Judge ripped a full count double to left field to tie the game, and then Anthony Rizzo followed with an RBI groundout to put the Yankees ahead.
The offense squandered an excellent chance to break the game open and knock Luis Severino out in the fourth inning. Cabrera earned his second knock of the night with a one out, sharp single up the middle. Reyes did the same with a line drive over first base. Spencer Torkelson followed with his second walk of the night to load the bases. To no one’s surprise, the trend of not being able to get a timely hit continued for the Tigers. To his credit, Harold Castro worked a nine-pitch at bat that ended in hard contact, but the result was a line drive hit right to Kiner-Falefa at shortstop.
After a rough third inning, Rodriguez settled in for what seems like the first time since putting on a Tigers jersey. He had easy fourth and fifth innings, and pitched into the sixth inning for the first time this year. He started the sixth by getting a weak ground out from Judge. So far so good. That brought Rizzo to the plate for the lefty-on-lefty matchup. Advantage? Not Rodriguez. In a 1-1 count, Rodriguez hung an 82 MPH changeup right over the heart of the plate and Rizzo sent it deep into the night to give New York the 3-1 advantage. Despite that, Rodriguez was able to shake it off and get through the sixth inning without any more damage. On the night, Rodriguez threw six innings while allowing three earned runs with five strikeouts and one walk. He threw 58 strikes on 98 pitches, so hopefully he’s rounding into form and can get back to commanding the strikezone in his next start.
In the bottom half of the inning, the Tigers finally responded and took advantage of their runners in scoring position. Candelario greeted the new Yankees pitcher, Chad Green, with a single into right-center field for his second hit of the evening, setting the stage for Miguel Cabrera to pick up hit number 2,999 in his illustrious career. And pick it up, he did. For his third hit of the evening, Cabrera smacked a broken bat single under the glove of a lunging Josh Donaldson at third base that put two on and none out. It looked like the Tigers were going to squander another golden opportunity after a strikeout of Reyes and a flyout from Torkelson, but Hittin’ Harold Castro stepped to the plate with redemption on his mind. On the first pitch he saw, Castro laced a double into the left-center gap that scored Candelario and amazingly, Miguel Cabrera from first. Yep, you read that right. With the game tied 3-3, it was a brand new ballgame.
Well, in that brand new ballgame, Drew Hutchison wasted little time in giving it right back to the Yankees. A lead-off walk to Donaldson was followed by a Gleyber Torres bunt that Hutchison made an errant throw to second on trying to get the lead runner. Is it just us or do Tigers pitchers routinely throw the ball away on that play more than anyone in the game?
Pinch-runner Tim Locastro was able to get to third on the error, and was then singled home by Kiner-Falefa. With one out, A.J. Hinch made another call to the pen to bring in Michael Fulmer, who came in for the second consecutive night and was able to strand runners on second and third to keep the deficit at one. Given he was facing the bottom of the lineup, you would think that Hinch was hoping to bridge the seventh inning with Hutchison before handing the ball to Fulmer in eighth to face the top of the order. While Hutchison has been good to start the season, that situation is where you really miss the likes of Jose Cisnero, Andrew Chafin, and Kyle Funkhouser.
After going quietly in the bottom half of the seventh, the Yankees went right back to work. Facing Joe Jimenez, Rizzo stayed hot by ripping a double to right field, and then stole third because of Jimenez’s glacial time to the plate. Rizzo would come around to score on a fielder’s choice by avoiding a tag on a throw home off a ground ball to Torkelson by DJ LeMahieu.
The Tigers’ offense remained quiet in the eighth, but the ninth started off with some promise with a Willi Castro pinch hit single. Sadly, the bats went back to bed as Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman set down pinch hitter Eric Haase, Robbie Grossman, and Austin Meadows in order to seal the win for New York.
Miguel Cabrera will go for career hit number 3,000 on Thursday afternoon at 1:10 p.m. as the Tigers look to avoid the sweep against the Yankees.