Yanks limp out of Detroit
It’s official. The Yankees are in a funk. Until Thursday, they had been the only team in the major leagues that had not lost three games in a row. Now they are not. Their first three-game losing streak came at the hands of the Tigers, who had lost seven straight games after dropping the first game of the series Monday night.
The Yankees threw away Thursday’s game, a 6-3 loss, literally. Two of the three errors they committed led directly to three runs, the deficit in the game. The Yankees’ offense was pretty active with 10 hits, including 3-for-8 (.375) with runners in scoring position, but were overtaken by a Detroit club that had only four hits.
A.J. Burnett continued the run of Yankees starting pitchers going deep into games with a seven-inning outing, and only two of the five runs off him were earned. However, one of the errors was his errant pickoff throw in the first inning that put Don Kelly, who reached base because Burnett hit him with a pitch on a count of 0-2, at third base from where he scored on Brennan Boesch’s sacrifice fly.
The Yankees took the lead in the fourth inning on RBI hits by Eric Chavez and Eduardo Nunez, who started as subs for resting Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter. Chavez had to leave the game, however, after suffering a bone fracture in the small toe of his left foot running out his first triple in four years. Chavez was headed back to New York to see club physician Chris Ahmad and may have to go on the disabled list.
That meant Rodriguez had to come into the game as a pinch runner, the first time he had such an assignment since his rookie season of 1995 with the Mariners when he spelled Tino Martinez. A-Rod, who had been on the bench not only resting his body but also a 7-for-50 (.140) slide, wound up with two hits and scored two runs, so maybe he is working himself back to form.
Detroit played some small ball in the sixth inning and tied the score after Ramon Santiago bunted Kelly to second base on a two-out single through the middle by Boesch, who topped off a big game in the eighth with a solo home run off lefthander Boone Logan.
The critical play came in the three-run seventh when the Tigers took control of the game. Burnett lost a 9-pitch duel with Victor Martinez, who singled to center leading off, then walked Magglio Ordonez and hit Ryan Raburn with a pitch to load the bases with none out. Brandon Inge broke the tie with a sacrifice fly, but Burnett should have been out of the inning after getting Santiago out on a bouncer to second baseman Robinson Cano playing in and Kelly on a grounder to short.
Nunez had all the time in the world to throw out Kelly but sailed his peg over first baseman Mark Teixeira. Two runs scored on the error, the second of the game for Nunez and his fifth in 22 innings in the field. For a backup infielder who is supposed to supply solid defense, this is unacceptable. Expect infield coach Mick Kelleher to work with Nunez to correct this part of his game.
Another coach with his work cut out for him is hitting coach Kevin Long. It is not a good sign when two of the three .300 hitters on the club are bench players – Nunez (.385) and Chavez (.303). Cano had two hits Thursday to get back over .300 (.303), but the Yankees had 6-for-32 (.188) with runners in scoring position and left 30 runners on base in the series.