Yanks ‘load’ up on Tigers

As poorly as the Yankees have done with the bases loaded this season, they are not the worst team in the American League in that department. That team would be the one they played Friday night, the Tigers. And there were several of bases-full situations that in effect decided this game, a 9-4 Yankees victory.

Detroit lefthander Casey Crosby, making his major-league debut, had a 1-0 lead entering the second inning when he lost the strike zone and walked the bases loaded with one out. The way the Yankees are going to in bases-loaded situations, it could be said the Tigers had them right where they wanted them.

Crosby got a second out as Chris Stewart flied out to shallow left with the runners holding. That out lowered the Yankees’ average with the bases loaded to .148 in 54 at-bats. Crosby’s fourth walk of the inning, to Derek Jeter on a 3-2 pitch, forced in the tying run.

Curtis Granderson made the rookie pay for his wildness by driving a 1-1 fastball to right field for a grand slam. It was a continuation of Granderson’s success against left-handed pitching. He led the league in homers against lefties last year with 16, is half-way there already this year against them and is hitting .281 with 12 RBI in 64 at-bats.

An inning later, the Tigers struck quickly against CC Sabathia for two runs to make the score 5-3 and threatened to get more by filling the bases with two out on a single by Prince Fielder, a double by Delmon Young and a walk to Gerald Laird. Now the Yankees really had the Tigers where they wanted them. When Brendan Boesch struck out on a 1-2 slider, it dropped Detroit’s bases-loaded average to .111, as in 4-for-36.

The air seemed to come out of the Tigers’ offense at that point. Sabathia had a lot to do with that by shutting them down over the next four innings on merely two singles. The bullpen finished off CC’s first victory for the Yankees at Comerica Park. He had been 0-3 with a 6.00 ERA as a Yankee in the Detroit yard prior to this start.

Another good sign for the Yankees was Alex Rodriguez ending a 30-at-bat home run drought with his eighth long ball of the season, a two-run shot in the ninth off Octavio Dotel. A-Rod was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts before that plate appearance.

Somewhat appropriately, the game ended with a bases-loaded at-bat. A 9-4 Yankees lead turned into a save situation when the Tigers filled the bags with one out. Yankees manager Joe Girardi summoned Rafael Soriano, who earned his seventh save by getting Miguel Cabrera to ground into a double play. That dropped the Tigers’ mark with the bases juiced even lower, to .108 in 37 at-bats.

Friday night marked the 15th time this century and the third time this year the Yankees faced a starting pitcher who was making his big-league debut. They are now 7-8 in those games with four consecutive victories after having lost six in a row from Sept. 30, 2004 (the Blue Jays’ Gustavo Chacin) to Sept. 27, 2010 (the Indians’ Josh Tomlin). Their other victories this year against starters in their debuts came April 10 at Baltimore against the Orioles’ Wei-Yin Chen and May 23 at Yankee Stadium against the Royals’ Will Smith, who was taken deep twice by Rodriguez.

The Yankees faced a Detroit starting pitcher in his debut for the first time since defeating Beiker Graterol April 4, 1999 at Yankee Stadium. They are 4-2 in games against Tigers starter in their debuts in the live ball era (since 1920), winning the past four. The last lost to a Tigers starter in his debut was to Bill Slayback June 26, 1972 at Tiger Stadium.

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