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Yankees 5, Tigers 4 (F/10): Sloppy play leads to the sweep

Rony Garcia and Miguel Cabrera were good. The rest of the team less so...

MLB: Detroit Tigers at New York Yankees Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

The Tigers battled in this one, but ongoing sloppy play in key situations wasted a gutsy start from Rony Garcia, squandering a couple of comebacks as the Yankees walked them off in the tenth inning to complete the sweep 5-4 on Sunday.

At least the Tigers young starters continue to impress. While Elvin Rodriguez was undone by his defense and some pitch tipping with runners on base on Friday, Beau Brieske came through with a strong performance on Saturday. The offense couldn’t quite take advantage, and we’ve seen a lot of that, but the work of the Tigers’ pitching coaches and their young charges has been excellent. Rony Garcia illustrated the point again on Sunday with a solid effort.

I wondered in the preview if right-hander Rony Garcia might try to throw the Yankees off with heavy doses of curve balls and changeups early on in this one. Instead, the plan was just the reverse. Garcia used a heavy volume of fourseam fastballs in the first and blew the first hitter, D.J. LeMahieu, away to open the bottom of the first. Aaron Judge drilled a line drive that Derek Hill handled in center field, and after opening with fastballs against Anthony Rizzo, the Yankees’ first baseman rolled over on a changeup for a routine ground out.

The injury train got a little longer for the Tigers in the second. Josh Donaldson led off the second inning with a shot past Jeimer Candelario that was deflected into foul territory. Candelario injured his shoulder in the attempt and couldn’t recover the ball. Javy Báez tracked it down in foul territory as Donaldson cruised into second and Candelario stayed on the ground in obvious pain. Harold Castro had to take over at third base.

Impressively, Rony Garcia wasn’t phased and took matters into his own hands. He dusted Gleyber Torres on a fastball, then tied Aaron Hicks into a knot with a curveball for a whiff before popping up Isiah Kiner-Falefa for the final out of the inning. That’s strong work from a pitcher who really isn’t much more than a rookie.

Of course the Tigers, as it their custom, weren’t doing a whole lot offensively either. Miguel Cabrera singled to lead off the second, and Daz Cameron later doubled with two outs, but Eric Haase struck out to end the threat. The kitties went quietly in the third.

A little outfield defense was a sight for sore eyes in the bottom of the inning. LeMahieu walked with two outs, and Judge ripped a single to left. Le Mahieu tried to go first to third, but Willi Castro fired to Harold Castro at third to cut him down, ending the inning.

Finally in the fourth, the Tigers opened the scoring. Miguel Cabrera walked with one out, and scored when Báez lashed a drive up the left center field gap to score Miggy all the way from first. Harold Castro grounded out, but Daz Cameron spanked a ground ball single back through the box, scoring Báez from second. Eric Haase struck out to end the inning.

Garcia made the lead stick, getting Rizzo, Donaldson, and Torres in a row on fly balls in the bottom of the fourth, but in the bottom of the fifth the Yankees tied it up courtesy of Joey Gallo. Kiner-Falefa singled with one out, but the Tigers appeared to have Jose Trevino struck out and Kiner-Falefa thrown out at second trying to steal. Review overturned the call on the field, and the Yankees shortstop was safe. Gallo made it count with a two-run shot on a sinker located on the outer edge of the zone.

Cabrera singled again with one out in the top of the sixth, but Báez bounced into a double play.

In the bottom half, Alex Lange took over from Rony Garcia and tossed a clean inning with three ground ball outs. Garcia’s outing ended with 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, BB, 4 SO. Only 46 of 71 pitches for strikes, but he wasn’t wasting too many either, simply getting ahead and trying to expand the zone. Overall his fastball command was pretty good in this one, and the Yankees had quite a bit of trouble handling the movement in to right-handers.

The Tigers got a walk from Eric Haase in the top of the seventh, but no more as Clarke Schmidt took over from starter Jordan Montgomery. The two starters had pretty equivalent days on the mound, both pitching well, though Montgomery went deeper into the game.

A.J. Hinch tried to stretch Lange a second inning, but it did not go well. Torres greeted him with a single, and after Hicks flew out to center, Kiner-Falefa singled to Báez who blew the play by being somehow unaware that Torres was going on the pitch and was already reaching second base. That mistake led to a run when Lange walked Matt Carpenter to load the bases. He struck out Joey Gallo, but then walked LeMahieu on four straight pitches to force in the go-ahead run. Quite uncharacteristic considering how he’s pitched this season.

Michael Fulmer came on in Lange’s place, and carved up Judge with two power sliders and a fastball for a swinging strike three. The Yankees led 3-2, and time was running short.

The Tigers weren’t going away though. Willi Castro led off the top of the eighth with a double to right field. Spencer Torkelson struck out, and Miguel Castro then came on for Clarke Schmidt and struck out Jonathan Schoop, but once again, Miguel Cabrera singled back up the middle, scoring Castro. Cabrera continues to get it done, and is now hitting .288 and pushing toward .300 with a three-hit game plus a walk in this one.

Kody Clemens came on to pinch run for Miggy, and took second on a wild pitch. Báez then singled on a little spinning grounder into right field, scoring Clemens, but Báez can’t seem to do anything right without giving it back, and he was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double when Castro cut off the throw in from Gallo and caught Báez in no man’s land. Still, 4-3 Tigers with two innings left.

Unfortunately, the Tigers then just booted the lead in the bottom half of the eighth. Fulmer hit Rizzo to open the inning, but struck out Donaldson. Rizzo then stole second base and advanced to third on a Jonathan Schoop error in whiffing the throw from Eric Haase. Torres then grounded to third, but Harold Castro threw the ball away while Rizzo scored to tie the game. Fulmer popped up Hicks, and then issued a free pass to Kiner-Falefa. That proved wise, as catcher Kyle Higashioka popped out to end the threat and send this to the ninth all tied up at 4-4.

The Yankees turned things over to Wandy Peralta in the top of the ninth. Harold Castro soft-tapped back to Peralta for the first out down the first base line. Daz Cameron popped out, and Eric Haase grounded out to third for a quick inning. Not ideal, and it would be up to Gregory Soto to hold the score in the bottom half of the ninth.

Soto blew Giancarlo Stanton away for the first out of the inning. LeMahieu battled and eventually drilled a line drive to center field, but Derek Hill was there to haul it in. That brought up Aaron Judge for a clash of power on power. Soto turned to the slider more for Judge, starting him out with a slider for a ball, a 99 mph heater for a called strike, and then two more sliders for a ball and a swinging strike. Soto missed with a 100 mph heater for ball three, running the count full, but came back with 101 down and in as the crowd at Yankee Stadium rose to their feet hoping for a walk off hit, blowing Judge away swinging for strike three.

The 10th opened with Haase as the runner on second. The Yankees went with Michael King, who has been dominant this season. Derek Hill struck out trying to bunt the runner over for the first out, while Willi Castro and Spencer Torkelson looked fully baffled, both quickly going down whiffing. Pretty bad in a late game situation with a runner started in scoring position and you don’t even move him over. Just bad at-bats there, though King is certainly filthy.

That left it to Soto to try and give the Tigers another chance by holding the Yankees in place in the bottom of the 10th.

It didn’t go well. Anthony Rizzo did what you’re supposed to and just put a ball in play on the ground, singling between Báez and Schoop, with the latter just knocking the ball down to hold Judge, who started at second, at third base. All the Yankees needed was a fly ball, and they got it as Donaldson flew out to the wall in left field, and Judge raced home with the walkoff winner.

That’s a sweep, folks. The Tigers will have a much needed off day Monday before heading to Pittsburgh for games on Tuesday and Wednesday. With Candelario looking to be out a while, and Austin Meadows and Riley Greene looking close to coming up from Toledo, look for some serious roster re-alignment this week.