Results tagged ‘ Cy Young Award ’

When in doubt, hit a runner on wayward path

The bullpen is supposed to be a major strength for the Yankees this year. The trade for Aroldis Chapman from the Reds added the game’s fiercest flame thrower to a back end of the pen that already featured last year’s 1-2 punch of Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller. Chapman is serving a suspension until May, but the Yankees feel protected in the interim because of the presence of Betances and Miller.

So it was a decided downer that a shaky inning by Betances in the eighth Tuesday sent the Yankees to their fifth straight Opening Day defeat. The Astros came back from a 2-0 deficit against Masahito Tanaka for a 5-3 victory. Betances was tagged with the loss, but this one probably should have an asterisk. The three runs he allowed that inning were all not earned, although that was because of an error that Betances himself committed. But that errant throw occurred on a disputed play yet one that is not reviewable by observing video replays.

You have seen this play plenty of times. A runner heading from the plate to first base runs on the grass, which forces the pitcher to elevate his throw to first base. In this case, Betances’ high toss sailed past first baseman Mark Teixeira, which allowed Jose Altuve, who led off the inning with a single and stole second base, to score the tie breaking run. Betances walked a batter and struck out another subsequently but gave up a single to Luis Valbuena that sent home two more runs.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi got into a heated argument with plate umpire Dana DeMuth, who at least agreed to confer with his fellow umps,but the safe call on Carlos Correa’s dash to first on the squibling grounder fielded by Betances stood.

As I watched the play unfold, I though that the best thing Betances could have done was just throw the ball at Correa. Had the ball hit him while he was clearly on the grass, Correa almost certainly would have been called out. I have advocated this for years and even suggested it should be practiced in spring training (with runners wearing protective gear naturally).

Girard even acknowledged that had Betances done that Correa would have been called out, “but is that what we want?” the manager wondered.

Well, you want an out in that situation, and spearing the runner apparently is the only way to get it if a video replay is not available for a second look. Girardi said DeMuth told him he did not think Correa’s path impeded the first baseman’s ability to make a play. Really? With the height of Betances’ throw over Correa, the only chance for the Yankees to get an out there would have been if Wilt Chamberlain was playing first base.

Correa, the American League winner of the Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award last year, was all over this game. He mishandled a grounder that had the potential for an inning-ending double play that opened the door to the Yankees’ first two runs on Starlin Castro’s two-out double in the second. Correa’s home run off Tanaka in the sixth, the righthander’s last inning, tied the score at 2. And there was Correa in the middle of all the commotion in the eighth.

The winning decision went to 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel, who had a 23-inning scoreless streak against the Yankees stopped but got 12 consecutive outs from the fourth through the seventh to keep Houston in the game. Didi Gregorius made it 5-3 in the bottom of the eighth with a leadoff home run, but the Yankees did not get a base runner after that.

Johnny Barbato, the James P. Dawson Award winner as the top rookie in the Yankees’ spring training camp, made his major league debut in the eighth. He hit Astros designated hitter Preston Tucker on the right wrist with his first pitch, then settled down and retired the next four hitters, three on strikeouts.

The Yankees’ offense had a subdued game. The first three hitters were a combined 0-for-10, although Alex Rodriguez managed to steal a base on those 40-year-old legs.

Too bad Castro was not here last October

The Yankees did not have to contend with all the rain that washed out Monday’s scheduled season opener, but the weather Tuesday was not conductive to baseball. Such is baseball in April.

The sun shone bright across Yankee Stadium, but the game time temperature of 38 degrees was the coldest for a Yanks’ opener since April 8, 2003 against the Twins when the thermostat at game time read 36 degrees.

Things heated up for the Yankees in the second inning as they finally broke their scoreless streak against the Astros’ Dallas Keuchel, the 2015 American League Cy Young Award winner. The lefthander pitched 22 shutout innings against the Yanks last year, including in Houston’s 3-0 victory in the AL wild card game.

Keuchel blanked the Yankees in the first inning, but a bobbled double-play ball by shortstop Carlos Correa, last year’s AL winner of the Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award, opened the door for the Yankees to get on the board as Starlin Castro made a positive first impression with a two-run double.

Following a one-out single to center by Carlos Beltran and a walk to Brian McCann, Shane Headley hit a grounder near the bag at second base. Correa may have taken his eye off the ball for a moment in planning to tag the bag and throw to first base to complete what would have been an inning-ending DP. Instead, he lost the out at second and nearly the one at first base as well, but Marwin Gonzalez saved the wild throw to get an out there.

Castro, obtained in the off-season from the Cubs in a trade for pitcher Adam Warren, introduced himself to the Stadium crowd with a line drive that raised chalk on the left field line. The double was good for two runs, which seemed awfully comfortable with the way Masahiro Tanaka was throwing early in the game.

The Japanese righthander retired the side in order the first time through the lineup as his elbow showed no ill effects from the chilly weather. The Astros touched him for a tainted run in the fourth inning. Another newcomer, Aaron Hicks, found out what left field at the Stadium is like on sunny days as he misplayed a line drive by Jose Altuve into a leadoff double. He scored on an infield out two batters later, but Tanaka avoided further damage by stranding a runner at third base when he caught Carlos Gomez looking at a third strike.

Alex Rodrigues pleased the crowd with a stolen base in the third, pretty nifty stuff for a 40-year-old.

  

Yanks get home-field advantage for Wild Card Game

The Yankees have the Diamondbacks to thank for Yankee Stadium being the site of the American League Wild Card Game Tuesday night. It was a lost weekend for the Yankees in Baltimore as the Orioles completed a three-game sweep Sunday with a 9-4 victory that put the Yanks’ season record at 87-75.

They would have had to make a plane ride to Houston for the Wild Card Game if the Astros had won their season finale at Phoenix. A two-run home run by Paul Goldschmidt in the bottom of the seventh inning unlocked a 3-3 score and sent the D-backs on the way to a 5-3 victory. So the Astros, who ended the regular season with an 86-76 record, will be the visiting team in Tuesday night’s AL Wild Card Game.

Houston was guaranteed the wild card berth when the Angels lost to the Rangers, who clinched the AL West title with an 88-74 mark.

The Yankees have designated Masahiro Tanaka to start Tuesday night against the Astros’ dangerous Dallas Keuchel, who led the league in victories (20), innings (232) and WHIP (1.017) and is among the favorites for the AL Cy Young Award. Keuchel faced the Yankees twice this year, won both games and did not allow a run in 16 innings. This will be the first time in his career that Keuchel will start on only three days’ rest.

While much has been made of the fact that Keuchel is far better at Minute Maid Park (15-0, 1.46 ERA) than on the road (5-8, 3.77 ERA), it must be noted that in his only start at Yankee Stadium the bearded lefthander pitched seven shutout innings with three hits, no walks and nine strikeouts in a 15-1 Houston blowout.

In his only start against the Astros this season June 27 at Houston, Tanaka blew a 6-0 lead and was stung for six runs and seven hits, including three home runs, in five innings (10.80 ERA) in a game the Yankees came back to win, 9-6.

Price is right for Blue Jays

If the Yankees ever get back into first place in the American League East, it will have to be after they leave Toronto. The Blue Jays ensured they will hold the top spot in the division over the duration of the series at Rogers Centre with a 4-2 victory Monday night.

Toronto boosted its division lead to 3 1/2 games (3 in the loss column), which means that even if the Yankees were to win Tuesday and Wednesday nights they would still be in second place upon leaving Canada.

The Yankees ran into David Price, every bit the ace Matt Harvey is to the Mets and moreso. Unlike Harvey, whom the Mets pulled after five innings Sunday night and paid for it when the Yankees pummeled his successors, Price went seven innings and shut out the Bombers on two hits and a walk with seven strikeouts.

There was a time in the eighth inning when it resembled what happened to the Mets in the sixth inning Sunday night at Citi Field as the first three Yankees batters reached base against the shaky Toronto bullpen and put a run across. The turning point may have been a called third strike on Brett Gardner on a pitch at the top of the letters that was borderline to say the least.

Brett Cecil followed that with strikeouts of Alex Rodriguez and Brian McCann, which sent the Yankees packing. They got a two-out home run from Greg Bird in the ninth inning off closer Roberto Osuna (17th save) but nothing more in dropping the first game of the series.

In essence, the game came apart for the Yankees in the bottom of the first inning when the Blue Jays scored three times off Adam Warren, who recovered nicely but only after the horses had left the barn. Warren started the game with a single, a hit batter and another single for one run, a wild pitch and an infield out for a second run and a double by Justin Smoak for a third run.

That was more than sufficient support for Price, who had merely one challenging inning among his seven. An errant throw by second baseman Cliff Pennington, a single by Jacoby Ellsbury and a walk to Gardner loaded the bases with one out before Price recovered to strike out Rodriguez and retire McCann on a fly ball to center field.

Those were the first two of 14 consecutive outs by Price, who improved his American League Cy Young Award resume with a 17-5 record, including 8-1 with a 1.95 ERA in 69 1/3 innings since joining the Blue Jays in a trade from the Tigers. That is the definition of an ace, which is something the Mets and Harvey have to learn.

Tanaka gem ends home losing streak

It took six tries, but the Yankees finally guaranteed themselves another winning season at Yankee Stadium. At the same time, they saved some face in a long, exasperating weekend against the front-running Blue Jays.

Sunday’s 5-0 triumph behind a determined Masahiro Tanaka was the Yankees’ 41st victory at the Stadium this year, which extended their stretch of consecutive winning seasons at home to 24 (since 1992). It is the longest current winning streak in the major leagues and the most since the Yankees’ big-league record of 47 winning seasons at home from 1918 through 1964.

It ended a five-game losing streak at the Stadium and followed a twin killing Saturday in a miserably long day. Yankees manager Joe Girardi said before the game that the team needed a well-pitched game more than anything, and Tanaka gave him all he could have wanted and more.

The Japanese righthander shut down the Blue Jays on four hits and no walks over seven innings and 108 pitches. Tanaka has given up only one earned run in 16 innings against Toronto’s powerful lineup this year.

“Location” was Girardi’s response for why Tanaka has done so well against a Blue Jays team that leads the American League in runs and home runs. “He was down in the zone all day. He had a good splitter, a good slider and worked in a cutter as well.”

Tanaka also helped himself with a pickoff play at second base that nailed Kevin Pillar, who had doubled with one out in the second inning. It was a rough weekend for Pillar, who was 1-for-13 at the plate and ran into his teammate, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who is out indefinitely due to a small crack in his left shoulder blade.

There were contributions all around in the Yankees’ victory that moved them back to 3 1/2 games behind the Blue Jays in the AL East and ended a personal seven-game winning streak by former National League Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey.

Dustin Ackley, who joined the Yankees in a trade from Seattle only to land on the disabled list because of a back ailment, knocked in three runs with a sacrifice fly in the second and his first home run in pinstripes, a two-run shot in the fourth.

Girardi decided to start Ackley at first base when he found out that Greg Bird, who has played there primarily since the season-ending injury to Mark Teixeira, had faced a knuckleball pitcher only once in the minor leagues. Ackley, on the other hand, had some success against Dickey and continued it Sunday. In 13 career at-bats against Dickey, Ackley is batting .462 with two home runs.

“The simple approach is better,” Ackley said of hitting knuckleball pitchers. “He was running the ball inside. I just looked for the first good one over the plate. The important thing is to get out in front and not stay back and let the knuckleball move too much.”

Alex Rodriguez, who was honored by the Yankees in a pregame ceremony for his 3,000th hit earlier in the season, showed some hustle in the second scoring from third base on a sacrifice fly by Didi Gregorius. A-Rod also drove in a run with a two-out double in the eighth that ended Dickey’s outing.

Brett Gardner, who had a huge day at the plate Saturday (4-for-9, three home runs, seven RBI) took a 0-for-4 collar Sunday but made two outstanding running catches in left field to take away potential extra-base hits from Justin Smoak in the seventh and Matt Hague in the ninth.

“Everybody is relieved that we are going on the road [to Tampa Bay] with confidence,” Ackley said.

Alex Rodriguez with family and Yankees chief operating officer Lonn Trost in pregame celebration of his 3,000th hit.

Alex Rodriguez with family and Yankees chief operating officer Lonn Trost in pregame celebration of his 3,000th hit.

Yankees have fallen into a 2-1 rut

So where was that all that high-powered offense that was expected from the American League’s two most prolific run scoring teams Friday night? The Yankees and the Blue Jays mustered only one run each as the game was pushed into extra innings.

Credit the Yankees’ Nathan Eovaldi and the Jays’ R.A. Dickey with keeping the combustible lineups under control. Solo home runs by Toronto’s Josh Donaldson in the first inning and the Yanks’ Mark Teixeira in the second was all the scoring accomplished in regulation.

It was another solo home run — by Jose Bautista with one out in the 10th off Brandon Pinder — that was the difference in the third consecutive 2-1 game played by the Yankees and the second loss. The other setback was Wednesday night to the Red Sox and Steven Wright, like Dickey a knuckleball pitcher. That flutterball has stymied the Yankees’ offense.

Eovaldi kept his six-game winning streak intact but could not add to it. Same with Dickey, who had won his three previous starts. Since his last loss June 16, Eovaldi has pitched to a 2.87 ERA over 53 1/3 innings in lowering his season ERA from 5.12 to 4.15. In 10 starts this season at Yankee Stadium, the righthander is 4-0 with a 3.41 ERA in 58 innings. He gave the Yankees 6 1/3 quality innings Friday night in allowing five hits and two walks with three strikeouts.

Dickey remains the one former Cy Young Award winner the Yankees have had trouble with this year, and they will face another one Saturday in lefthander David Price, who was recently obtained in a trade from the Tigers. Dickey pitched seven innings and scattered six hits and two walks with three strikeouts.

The Yankees are 6-2 this year in games started by former Cy Young Award winners, who have a combined ERA of 5.48 in those games. Dickey started both of those games the Yankees lost and posted a 1.27 ERA in those starts over 21 1/3 innings.

The loss sliced the Yankees’ lead in the American League East to 3 1/2 games over the Blue Jays, who are nonetheless five games back in the loss column. That is the nail in the coffin in pennant races because a loss cannot be made up so long as the team you are trailing keeps winning.

Still, the Yankees wasted a good pitching effort and used their back end of the bullpen combo of Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller in a game they failed to win. It was not the way they wanted to start what may be a critical weekend.

Last shall be first with Yanks’ lineup lately

It has been a bottoms-up situation for the Yankees’ batting order in recent games. Monday night, the six-through-nine hitters in the Yankees’ starting lineup were a combined 7-for-14 (.500) with four runs, one doubles, one triple, one home run, four RBI and two walks in the 6-2 victory over the Rangers at Arlington, Texas.

Sunday, the 6-9 hitters drove in all seven runs in the Yankees’ 7-2 victory over the Twins at Minneapolis. Over the past two games, 6-9 in the order are batting a combined .393 (11-for-28) with eight runs, one double, one triple, three homers, 11 RBI and two walks. For the season, the seven-through-nine hitters (not counting pitchers in inter-league competition) rank fifth in the American League with a .649 OPS (on-base plus slugging averages) and have the second most home runs (28).

Third baseman Chase Headley has been as hot as the weather this month. In 17 games in July, Headley is batting .369 (24-for-65) with 11 runs, six doubles, one home run, and 11 RBI in 65 at-bats. He has reached base safely in 15 of the 17 games, has a .400 on-base percentage and raised his batting average 22 points to .268. . . Shortstop Didi Gregorius has also been hot. Derek Jeter’s successor homered and drove in a career-high four runs Monday in his second three-hit game over the past five in which he is 8-for-15 (.533) with three runs, one homer and six RBI to raise his season batting average from .234 to .248. The home run ended a homer-less stretch of 103 at-bats.

Yankees closer Andrew Miller has converted all 23 of his save opportunities this year, which is the longest streak of consecutive saves to begin a stint with the Yankees since saves became an official statistic in 1969 and tied for third longest for any team, equaling those of Huston Street with the Padres in 2012 and LaTroy Hawkins with the Twins over the 2000 and ’01 seasons. The longest is 44 straight saves by Brad Lidge with the Phillies over the 2008 and ’09 seasons. Second is Guillermo “Willie” Hernandez with 32 for the Tigers in 1984, the year he won both the AL Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Awards.

Alex Rodriguez, who turned 40 Monday, hit his sixth career home run on his birthday to set a major league record. He had shared the previous mark of five with Todd Helton, Chipper Jones, Derrek Lee and Al Simmons. A-Rod also became only the fourth player to homer in his teens and his 40s. The others were Ty Cobb (who played from 1905-28) Rusty Staub (1963-85) and Gary Sheffield (1988-2009). Since 1914, Rodriguez is the ninth right-handed batter (10th occasion) to hit at least 24 home runs in his age-39 season or older, and the first since Frank Thomas in 2007 (26 at age 39). The only player to hit as many as 30 homers at 39 or older was Hank Aaron, who hit 40 in 1973 when he was 39. Nine of A-Rod’s past 14 hits have been home runs, including each of his past four hits.

A-Rod’s 3,000th hit also his 667th home run

In his previous quests for landmark hits such as his 500th and 600th home runs, Alex Rodriguez went days without achieving them as at-bat after at-bat piled up. Not so with his 3,000th hit, however.

A-Rod wasted no time in becoming the 29th member of the major leagues’ 3,000 Hit Club Friday night when he hit the first pitch he saw from Detroit’s Justin Verlander for an opposite-field home run with two out in the bottom of the first inning. Rodriguez’s first big-league hit was 21 years ago as a rookie with the Mariners.

His 3,000th hit was also his 667th career home run. The only players other than A-Rod with 3,000 hits and more than 600 home runs are Hall of Famers Henry Aaron and Willie Mays.

Rodriguez joined former teammate Derek Jeter as the only players to reach the 3,000-hit plateau wearing Yankees uniforms. Four other 3,000 Hit Club members played for the Yankees during their careers: Paul Waner, Dave Winfield, Rickey Henderson and Wade Boggs.

A-Rod also became the third player whose 3,000th hit was a home run. The others were Boggs with Tampa Bay in 1999 and Jeter against the Rays at Yankee Stadium in 2011. Rodriguez acknowledged the fans’ applause with a curtain call.

That A-Rod’s 3,000th hit came against a pitcher the caliber of Verlander, a former American League Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Award winner, was not a surprise. Rodriguez, a three-time AL MVP, entered the game with a .357 batting average and four home runs in 28 career at-bats against Verlander.

Pitch count halts Pineda’s record chase

Michael Pineda had a chance to make history Sunday, but the pitch count police did him in. Rather than rant on like an old man about how pitchers are being babied to death these days, let me just say quickly what they can do with pitch counts. Shove ’em.

Here was Pineda using high fastballs, swirling sliders and freeze-frame changeups to embarrass one Baltimore hitter after another before a Mothers Day crowd of 39,059 at Yankee Stadium. Five of his first six outs were by strikeout. Over the fifth and sixth innings, he punched out six hitters in a row. The righthander added two more Ks in the seventh to bring his total to 16.

The fans, naturally, were loving it with their typical hand-clapping reaction to every two-strike pitch, a tradition that began at the Stadium June 17, 1978 when Ron Guidry set the franchise record with 18 strikeouts against the Angels. Pineda had a very good chance at breaking that mark or at least tying it. His pitch count, however, stood at 111. That was enough for manager Joe Girardi, who by the way was the catcher in the only other two games in which a Yankees pitcher struck out 16 batters — David Wells and David Cone, both in 1997.

So out came Pineda, depriving the crowd of an opportunity for an historic moment. Quite a few headed for the exits what with the Yankees comfortably in front at that point by five runs. The drama had exited the game with Pineda.

Girardi said he was unaware wha the club record was and that even if he did it would not have mattered. Considering how early in the season it is and that Pineda has a history of arm miseries in his brief career the call to the bullpen was the choice to make.

“Maybe if he was coming off a serious injury, it might have been a different story,” Girardi said.

A manager cannot worry about records. I get that. The idea is to win the game, which the Yankees did, 6-2, to take the series and boost their lead in the American League East to three games over second-place Tampa Bay where they will open a four-game set Monday night.

Personally, I could not help but be disappointed. When a pitcher is on the way Pineda was Sunday, one cannot help but want to see more, particularly if he is in range of a major achievement. After all, he was within four strikeouts of the all-time mark for a nine-inning game by Roger Clemens (twice) and Kerry Wood.

I was reminded of a game I watched on television one night early in the 2007 season. Jake Peavy, then with the Padres, had 16 Ks through seven innings against the Diamondbacks in Phoenix. I was all prepared to watch him go for the record when Bud Black, then in his first year as San Diego’s manager, yanked him. Black, a former pitcher, yet!

Later that year when Peavy was named the National League Cy Young Award, I chatted with him by phone as the representative of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America and asked him about that game.

“I’m with you, man,” Peavy told me. “I argued like crazy to stay in the game, but Skip hit me with that ‘It’s too early in the year’ stuff.”

That game was played April 25. Sunday was May 10. But another big difference is eight years. Major League Baseball is married to the pitch count these days and challenging it only marks you as a dinosaur.

Still, there is no evidence I see that holding pitchers back protects them from arm problems. There are more pitchers on the disabled list and lining up for Tommy John surgery than every before. In his 18-strikeout game, Guidry threw 138 pitches. He went on to win the American League Cy Young Award that year, pitched for 10 more years and nearly won a second Cy in 1985 but was runner-up to the Royals’ Bret Saberhagen.

Pineda was no more aware of the record than was Girardi and made no argument to stay in the game. He must have used the word “happy” two dozen times after the game to describe how he felt. Think of how often he might have said it if he were allowed to take a shot at the Yankees’ record book.

The way Pineda was pitching it is hard to remember that he was actually behind in the score early on. He hung a 2-2 slider to J.J. Hardy, who drove it to left field for his first home run this season. That was in the second inning when Pineda also struck out the side, which he did again in the fifth. By then, the Yankees had moved in front after a four-run fourth inning against Bud Norris.

Carlos Beltran, who is starting to swing the bat better, got the Yankees even with his first home run of the year coming in his 100th at-bat. A walk to Chase Headley and singles by Stephen Drew and Didi Gregorius gave the Yankees the lead. Jacoby Ellsbury extended the advantage with a two-run double.

There was no stopping Pineda now. Fortified by more offense later on — a home run by Brian McCann in the fifth and an RBI double by Gregorius in the seventh — Pineda just proceeded to attack Orioles hitters.

“I felt great; everything was working,” Pineda said. “I was happy to do this on Mothers Day because I know my Mom was watching in the Dominican.”

She is not the only person watching. Pineda has become one of the dominant pitchers in the league with a 5-0 record and 2.72 ERA. He has stepped up big-time to help the rotation deal with the loss to injury of Masahiro Tanaka. Pineda was asked if he feels that he is now the Yankees’ ace.

“I’m not focusing on that,” he said. “I just want to keep helping this team win.”

Dellin Betances struck out one batter in the seventh and one in the eighth. It maked only the third time Yankees pitchers had 18 strikeouts in a nine-inning game. In addition to the Guidry game, they did it July 26, 2011 at Seattle.

Pineda tied Cone’s club mark for strikeouts in a game by a righthander, but I sure would have liked to see him try to go for the all-time record.

Yanks get healthy on the road as Tiger tamers

That the Yankees seem to have righted themselves could not have come at a better time. The Mets, the hottest team in the major leagues with an 11-game winning streak, a 10-0 home record and an overall best mark of 13-3, come to Yankee Stadium Friday night for the first round of the 2015 Subway Series.

While the Mets were winning all 10 of their games at Citi Field thus far, the Yankees went on a 10-game trek through Baltimore, St. Peterburg and Detroit and emerged with seven victories and showed exceptional pitching, timely hitting and much improved fielding.

After dropping two of three games to the Orioles, the Yankees swept a three-game series from the Rays and took three of four games from a Tigers team that had the best record in the majors at the start of the set and might have been knocked out of first place in the American League Central if the Royals could win Thursday night against the White Sox. Similarly, a Red Sox loss Thursday night would have thrust the Yankees into a first-place tie in the AL East.

All this sounded impossible a week and a half ago when the Yankees seemed adrift with an abundance of hitting, pitching and fielding lapses. They started the trip with a woeful 2-4 record and come home with a strapping 9-7 mark.

Granted, they ran into a Tampa Bay club that is already heavily laden with injuries, but the Detroit team the Yankees faced has one of the most ferocious lineups in the game and yet was held to nine runs in four games, an average of 2.3 runs per game by the Tigers, who began the series averaging 6.4 runs per game.

The Yankees’ 13-4 victory Wednesday night when they jumped on former AL Cy Young Award winner David Price for six runs in the first inning contained more runs by them than the Tigers scored in the entire series. Former two-time AL Most Valuable Player Miguel Cabrera was tamed with a 2-for-13 showing.

The Yankees followed that blowout with a tight pitching duel in Thursday’s frosty Comerica Park (33 degrees at first pitch) between Masahiro Tanaka and Anibal Sanchez. Neither was involved in the decison as the score was 1-1 in the seventh inning, the last for each starter.

Tanaka gave up a first-inning run on a sacrifice fly by Victor Martinez and held the Tigers to two hits, both doubles by J.D. Martinez, one out into the seventh with two walks and six strikeouts. The Yankees’ offense wasn’t much better. They had merely three hits. Their runs, both scored by Jacoby Ellsbury, came on a balk by Sanchez and an infield out.

The winning decision went to Dellin Betances (3-0), who snuffed out a rally in the seventh with two critical outs and added a scoreless eighth with two strikeouts. Andrew Miller followed with a  no-hit, two-strikeout ninth inning to go 6-for-6 in saves.

Behind the pitchers was outstanding defense from a team that made 11 errors over its first eight games. The Yankees in their past eight games have committed only one error. Third baseman Chase Headley made two sparkling, back-handed plays that robbed hits and in one case in the seventh inning saved a run.

Playing a day game gave the Yankees the opportunity to get back home the same evening and not in the wee hours of the following morning, so they could enjoy a deserved night of rest before the job ahead of them against their resurgent neighbors from Queens.

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