Results tagged ‘ Miguel Cabrera ’

Yanks pitchers outshine Tigers’ vaunted rotation

When the Yankees-Tigers series began, all the talk was about Detroit’s rotation. The Tigers had lined up against the Yankees three former American League Cy Young Award winners in Max Scherzer, David Price and Justin Verlander and a 13-game winner in Rick Porcello.

Guess what? None of them notched a victory.

Talk centered on the Yankees’ staff after it limited one of the AL’s top offensive clubs to merely six runs over 39 innings in winning three of the four games. The only game Detroit won, a 4-3, 12-inning matchup, did not provide a victory for their starting pitcher, Price, who was out of the game in the ninth.

Yankees starters, meanwhile, were 2-0 with an ERA of 0.99 as the rotation gave up only three earned runs in 27 1/3 innings. Not that the Tigers’ crew was bad. The Detroit starters combined for a 2.42 ERA, which any manager will take over a four-game set, but it was just not a match for the Yankees.

Thursday’s 1-0 victory behind rookie Shane Greene and in front of a sellout Yankee Stadium crowd of 47,013 was a nice finishing touch. Greene pitched one batter into the ninth and scattered five hits and three walks with five strikeouts to improve his record to 3-1 with a 2.89 ERA. He as yanked in the fifth inning of his prior start at Boston but this time came close to his first complete game in the majors. Maybe next time.

“We won” is the best thing Greene took from the game. He is a man of few words and at times seems overwhelmed by his surroundings in the majors — except when he is on the mound. The righthander utilized an effective sinker-slider mix with an occasional four-seam fastball that was never more valuable than in the sixth when it produced a pivotal double play against Victor Martinez, the second half of the Tigers’ 1-2 punch behind two-time AL Most Valuable Player Miguel Cabrera, who was rested until the ninth inning Thursday when he batted as a pinch hitter in the ninth against David Robertson (31st save) with a chance to do damage and ruin Greene’s effort.

Cabrera batted with runners on first and second with none out. He hit a hard grounder past Robertson, but it was gobbled up in front of second base by Brendan Ryan, who stepped on the bag and threw the ball to first base for another crucial double play. Fans gasped when Don Kelly lofted a fly ball in shallow center before Stephen Drew, starting at shortstop for a resting Derek Jeter, put it away for a satisfying final out. Also bailing out Robertson in the Kelly at-bat was catcher Francisco Cervelli, who made two terrific stops of balls in the dirt to keep the potential tying run at third.

Drew was also responsible for the game’s only run with an opposite-field double to left in the fourth off Porcello. The new mix of players up from the minors and the result of trades has given the Yankees a burst of freshness.

“It has changed the complexion of the team,” manager Joe Girardi said. “We have gotten better defensively, and pitchers are giving us more innings.”

Greene’s work allowed over-loaded Shawn Kelley, Adam Warren and Dellin Betances a needed day off. The Yankees had been sputtering at home this year but have turned that around since the All-Star break with 10 victories in 14 games.

“We have talked about needing to play better at home,” Girardi said. “We are doing all the little things. These are the best four starts in a row that we have had all season. Their pitchers were the guys being talked about, but our pitchers did a great job.”

Yanks finish 2-1 vs. Cy Young pitchers

Those of us in the press box had to be on the alert Wednesday night. I cannot recall a time when so many foul balls were hit in our direction. That’s usually a sign of hitters being unable to get around with the bat against a pitcher with exceptional stuff.

It came as no surprise because the pitcher was Justin Verlander, the 2011 American League Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Award winner who has had something of a star-crossed season this year. Verlander entered the game with a surprisingly high ERA (4.66), but he seemed the ace of recent vintage this night.

When not fouling pitches back on a regular basis, the Yankees were making out after out against Verlander until Jacoby Ellsbury broke up his no-hit bid with a two-out single to center field in the fourth inning.

Chase Headley, who has been a fine addition to the Yankees, finally got through to Verlander with one out in the fifth with a drive into the second deck in right field for the third baseman’s second home run since joining the Yankees and ninth of the season.

That made the score 1-1. The Tigers had touched Chris Capuano for a gift run in the first inning. Rajai Davis reached first base on an error by Derek Jeter and second on a wild pitch by Capuano before there was an out. Davis crossed to third on an infield out and scored on Miguel Cabrera’s flyout to the warning track in right field.

Capuano got help from Ellsbury to keep the game tied in the sixth. The center fielder leaped high to glove J.D. Martinez’s drive to right-center at the top of the wall in front of the Yankees’ bullpen for the third out of the inning.

Capuano more than held his own against Verlander. The lefthander had eight strikeouts, twice as many as his opponent into the seventh inning, and only one walk. He came out of the game after giving up two-out singles by Andrew Romine and Ezequiel Carrera in the seventh. Adam Warren retired Davis on a grounder to the right side for the third out. Capuano has pitched to a 2.48 ERA in 19 inning since joining the Yankees.

It was a shame he was out of the game when Brian McCann’s 13th home run gave the Yankees a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the seventh. Capuano had pitched well enough to earn a victory, but the run put Warren in place for the winning decision instead.

Warren’s shining moment came in the eighth when the game nearly came unglued for the Yanks after a dual error by second baseman Stephen Drew on a ground ball by Victor Martinez gave the Tigers runners on first and third with one out. Warren fell behind 3-0 in the count to the next two hitters but came back to set down both of them. He used a pair of 96-mph fastballs to strike out J.D. Martinez and finished off Nick Castellanos on a routine fly ball to right field.

Verlander was gone after seven, and the Yankees pushed their lead to 5-1 in the eighth against lefthander Blaine Hardy. Mark Teixeira drove in a run with a single and was the second runner to score on an errant throw to first base by Romine, the shortstop, on a call overturned after a video replay.

Teixeira turned out a casualty. He cut his right pinky on catcher Bryan Holaday’s spikes and required stitches. Tex will not play Thursday’s series finale and could be lost for even more time.

That was the one negative drawback in an otherwise positive night for the Yankees, whose string of games decided by two runs or fewer ended at 16.

The Yankees came out on the plus side (2-1) of their three match-ups against former Cy Young Award winners, and they now have a winning career record (6-5) against Verlander, who has not beaten them in two years.

Yankees pitching has been particularly good in this series against the Tigers, who lead the AL in batting but have scored only six runs in 30 innings the past three games.

2-for-2 for No. 2 in final All-Star Game

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MINNEAPOLIS — It did not take Derek Jeter very long to get involved in the 2014 All-Star Game. On the very first play of the game, Jeter made a diving stop of a hard grounder toward the middle by Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen, but the reigning National League Most Valuable Player beat the throw to first base for a single.

McCutchen never stopped running that inning. He moved up to second base on a wild pitch during the at-bat of Yasiel Puig, who struck out, and stole third base as Troy Tulowitzki struck out. Mac never made it home, however, as Paul Goldschmidt grounded out to third.

The Twins, who have done a magnificent job as host of the All-Star Game, came up with a nice touch by having a tape of the late Yankees public address voice Bob Sheppard announce Jeter as he stepped to the plate as the first American League hitter in the bottom of the first inning. The tape was apparently from the 2008 All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium.

The Target Field crowd was generous with its applause and gave Jeter a standing ovation. Starting pitcher Adam Wainwright left his glove and the ball on the rubber and stepped back off the mound in joining his NL teammates in applauding Jeter, who removed his helmet, waved to the crowd and pointed to both dugouts. He motioned to Wainwright to start pitching, but the Cardinals ace remained behind the mound for probably a full minute before taking position.

As play resumed, fans treated the Captain to a “Der-ek Jee-ter” chant familiar to the roll call the bleacher creatures at the Stadium salute him with every night, another cool touch. Jeet got things started for the AL with one of his patented line drives to right field that went into the corner as Jeter legged out a double. The crowd loved it.

And how about that to those who thought Jeter should not have been the AL’s leadoff hitter? One swing, and he was in scoring position. Not bad, eh?

Angels outfielder Mike Trout got Jeter home with the AL’s second extra-base hit of the inning, a triple off the right field wall that the Dodgers’ Yasieal Puig played poorly. After Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano struck out, Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera got the AL’s third extra-base hit of the inning, a home run to left field. The score was 3-0, and the Americans had not had a single yet. Perhaps Wainwright should have stayed off the mound.

The National League, which was shut out at Citi Field last year, closed to 3-2 in the second on RBI doubles by Phillies second baseman Chase Utley and Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy to end a 15-inning scoreless streak dating to 2012 at Kansas City.

Jeter was a leadoff hitter again in the third inning against Reds righthander Alfredo Simon and got the AL’s first single on another hit to right field. A wild pitch advanced Jeter into scoring position this time, but he was stranded.

Before the start of the fourth inning, AL manager John Farrell of the Red Sox sent White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez onto the field to replace Jeter, who was showered with another round of long applause while the PA system played Frank Sinatra’s version of “New York, New York” that is heard at the end of every Yankees home game.

Jeter again waved to the crowd, pointed to the NL dugout and then shook the hands of every one of his teammates in the AL dugout and urged on by the crowd came onto the field once more to acknowledge their cheers. He left All-Star competition with a .481 career average in 27 at-bats and seemed in place for maybe another game Most Valuable Player Award to match the one he received in 2000 at Atlanta’s Turner Field.

One stumbling block to that was the NL tying the score in the fourth on another RBI double by Lucroy, this time off White Sox lefthander Chris Sale. That opened the door for Trout, who with his second extra-base hit of the game, a double in the fifth, gave the AL the lead and put him in position to be the MVP.

But if the fans here had their choice, I’m sure they would vote for Jeter.

Soriano named AL Player of the Week

It should surprise no one that Yankees left fielder Alfonso Soriano was named American League Player of the Week for the period ending Aug. 18. Soriano went on one of the most amazing tears in one week in the game’s history.

Sori, who was acquired by the Yankees in a July 26 trade from the Cubs for minor-league relief pitcher Corey Black, batted .484 with nine runs, one double, five home runs and 18 RBI in seven games and 31 at-bats. The Yankees were 5-2 during that stretch as they fight to get into position for a playoff berth.

It marked Soriano’s seventh career weekly award. His previous honor was in the National League for the week ending May 18, 2008 with the Cubs. He won three AL Player of the Week Awards in his first stint with the Yankees, the last of which was for the week ending Sept. 21, 2003. Among Major League Baseball leaders for the past week, Soriano paced all hitters in home runs, RBI, slugging percentage (1.000), hits (15) and total bases (31), and was tied for first in runs scored.

Soriano went into the game of Aug. 13 against the Angels at Yankee Stadium battling a 1-for-16 slump and broke out of it with three hits, including two home runs and a career-best six RBI in a 14-7 Yankees victory. He topped himself the next day with a 3-for-3 game against the Angels that included two more homers and a new career-best seven RBI in an 11-3 Yankees victory.

Sori established career highs in RBI in two straight games and in the process became just the third player in major-league history to collect at least six RBI in consecutive games, joining the Rangers’ Rusty Greer in 1997 and the Brewers’ Geoff Jenkins in 2001. It was the third time in his career that Soriano had multi-homer games on back-to-back days.

After getting four more hits in an 8-4 loss to the Angels Aug. 15, Soriano took his hot streak to Boston’s Fenway Park where the night of Aug. 16 he went 3-for-4 with a homer and four RBI to lead the Yanks to a 10-3 victory over the Red Sox.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Soriano’s 18 RBI over the four-game stretch from Aug. 13-16 matched baseball’s all-time mark for the most RBI in a four-game period since it became an official statistic in 1920. The others to do so were the Cardinals’ Jim Bottomley in 1929, the Yankees’ Lou Gehrig in 1930, the Yankees’ Tony Lazzeri in 1936, the Yankees’ Joe DiMaggio in 1939 and the Cubs’ Sammy Sosa in 2002.

Other noteworthy performances last week included the Tigers’ Max Scherzer (18-1, 2.82 ERA), who became the fifth pitcher since 1912 to win 18 of his first 19 decisions in a season, and his teammate Miguel Cabrera (4 HR, 10 RBI); Twins pitcher Andrew Albers (two-hit shutout against the Indians Aug. 20); Orioles first baseman Chris Davis (.409, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 2 2B) and White Sox pitcher Chris Sale (2-0, 2.81 ERA, 1 BB, 14 K).

In recognition of his AL Player of the Week Award, Soriano will be awarded a watch courtesy of Game Time, the leader in licensed sports watches, available at MLB.com.

Gardner saves Rivera again

Brett Gardner came to Mariano Rivera’s rescue again. The way Gardner looked at it, a Yankees hitter picking up Mo was due for all the game’s greatest closer has meant to the team the past 19 seasons.

“I think Mo has bailed us out quite a few times,” Gardner said. “Things like that happen.”

Well, not quite. Rivera had never blown three consecutive save opportunities before the past five days nor had he ever allowed two home runs in a save opportunity. That was the case Sunday when trying to nail down a 4-2 victory over the Tigers Mo gave up solo shots to Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez that tied the score.

“There’s always a first time,” Rivera said. “I don’t pay attention to that stuff; just go out there and do my job. The last three opportunities, I haven’t done it. You have to continue battling.”

But in the last two of those blown-save situations, the Yankees came back to win the game with Gardner getting the climactic hit each time. Friday night after Cabrera stunned Rivera with a two-run bomb over Monument Park in the top of the ninth, Gardner won it for the Yankees with a single in the bottom of the 10th. Sunday it was Gardner who put the Yankees over the top again with his first career walk-off home run, off Jose Veras.

“That’s the first time I ever hit a walk-off homer and might be the last,” Gardner said. “I’ve had a couple of seeing-eye singles, up the middle and through the left side, but never a home run like that. It felt good. It didn’t matter if it was me or somebody else; we just needed to get a win today. I was glad we made it happen.”

It was a happening all right. The Yankees won two of three games from the club with the best record in the American League. It was the first winning series for the Yankees since July 5-7 against the Orioles at Yankee Stadium. Before Sunday, the Yankees had endured eight consecutive non-winning series (five losses, three splits), their longest such stretch in 22 years.

Gardner’s walk-off homer was the second of the season for the Yankees. The other was by Ichiro Suzuki June 25 against the Rangers at the Stadium. Gardner’s eight home runs are the most he has hit in one season. With 23 career homers, the Yankees are 20-3 in those games.

Rivera allowed two home runs in a game for the fifth time in his career and the first time since May 7, 2009 to the Rays’ Carl Crawford and Evan Longoria. Sunday was the first time Mo was taken deep twice in a save opportunity, however.

Yankees starter Andy Pettitte allowed one earned run in 4 1/3 innings, the fewest runs he has allowed in a game since June 8 at Seattle and the fewest in a game at the Stadium since April 4 against the Red Sox. The run off Pettitte came in the first inning, marking the eighth straight start in which he has been scored upon in the first inning, equaling a franchise-record streak by Javier Vazquez from April 3 to May 15, 2011.

With his first home run of the season, Alex Rodriguez passed Stan Musial into fifth place in career RBI with 1,951. It was career homer No. 648 for A-Rod, who is 12 behind fourth-place Willie Mays on the all-time list.

Alfonso Soriano’s solo home run (No. 20) in the fourth inning was his 2,000th career hit. The Elias Sports Bureau reported that Soriano is one of four players who made their major league debuts with the Yankees in the past 60 years to get at least 2,000 career hits, joining Derek Jeter (3,308), Bernie Williams (2,336) and Don Mattingly (2,153). Sori also joined the Red Sox’ David Ortiz as the only players to hit at least 20 homers in each of the past 12 seasons (2002-13).

David Robertson allowed a solo home run to Brayan Pena at the start of the eighth inning. It ended D-Rob’s 20 1/3-inning scoreless stretch dating to June 19. Robertson still has a streak of holding opponents hitless each of their past 23 at-bats with runners on base.

More Stadium woes for Hughes

The mystery of Phil Hughes continued Saturday at Yankee Stadium. For the third straight start, Hughes failed to last long enough to qualify for a winning decision, which he has not had in six starts dating to July 2, in the Yankees’ 9-3 loss to the Tigers.

Hughes was up to 99 pitches by the time he was removed from the game one out into the fifth inning. The righthander had six strikeouts and did not walk a batter, but he hit a lot of bats. The Tigers lashed out seven hits, including four for extra bases, off Hughes, whose season ERA is a mere decimal point below 5 at 4.99.

Over his past six starts, Hughes is 0-4 with a 6.59 ERA in 27 1/3 innings. He has allowed 35 hits, including eight home runs, over that stretch. The Stadium continued to be a scary place for him. Hughes is 1-8 with 16 home runs allowed and a 6.18 ERA this season in the Bronx compared to 3-3 with six home runs allowed and a 3.67 ERA on the road.

“He has had a hard time keeping the ball down,” manager Joe Girardi said. “They put a lot of long at-bats on him. They [Tigers] have some guys that can do real damage.”

The Yankees could not maintain the momentum from Friday night’s uplifting victory in extra innings to exonerate a rare second straight blown save by Mariano Rivera. The first batter who faced Hughes Saturday ended up on third base.

What a series Austin Jackson is having. The Tigers center fielder had three doubles in a four-hit game Friday night and followed that Saturday with a first-inning triple and a fifth-inning home run. Jackson is 6-for-10 (.600) with five runs, three doubles, one triple and one home run in the series. He has a series slugging percentage of 1.400!

Miguel Cabrera, who stunned Rivera with a game-tying, two-run homer in the ninth, went deep again off Hughes in the third inning. He has been no slouch in the series, either, with five hits in 10 at-bats (.500), including two home runs. The defending American League Most Valuable Player and Triple Crown winner has driven in four runs and scored three.

Cabrera has made a habit of beating up on the Yankees. In 45 career games against them, Cabrera is batting .367 with 11 doubles, one triple, 17 home runs and 43 RBI in 166 at-bats. In 15 games at Yankee Stadium, Cabrera is a .404 hitter with two doubles, nine home runs and 20 RBI in 57 at-bats.

The Yankees were in a 6-0 hole before Lyle Overbay got them on the board in the fifth with a two-run home run off Anibal Sanchez. Yet just when it seemed the Yankees would make a run against the Tigers, Detroit moved further ahead the next inning on Torii Hunter’s three-run home run off Joba Chamberlain. Overbay knocked in the Yankees’ third run as well with a two-out single in the ninth.

Overbay, who also walked, was the only Yankees player to reach base multiple times. His home run (No. 13) was his first at the Stadium since July 10 against the Royals.

The Yankees bullpen allowed five earned runs and 10 hits in 4 2/3 innings, the most runs allowed by the relief corps since June 1 against the Red Sox (six earned runs) and the fourth time relievers have allowed at least five runs in a game (also five earned runs April 3 against the Red Sox and May 15 against the Mariners). Overall, Yankees pitchers allowed 17 hits, one shy of their season high. This was the fourth time giving up at least 17 hits in a game and the second against the Tigers (also 17 hits April 6 at Detroit).

The Yankees got only three other hits off Sanchez (10-7), who walked one batter and struck out eight in his seven innings. Around that time fans in the stands starting doing the wave. There is no greater sign of disinterest.

Notes from a walk-off victory

The Yankees’ 4-3, 10-inning victory Friday night was their fourth walk-off triumph of the season. The others were June 25 against the Orioles and July 28 against the Rays. The Yanks have won consecutive home games in walk-off fashion for the first time since Sept. 21 and 22 last year against the Athletics.

The walk-off hit for Brett Gardner, a single to left field, was the fourth of his career and his first since June 16, 2011 against the Rangers. In the fifth inning, Gardner got his 20th stolen base of the season to reach that plateau for the fourth time. He also had 26 steals in 2009, 47 in 2010 and 49 in 2011.

The Yankees’ victory ended Detroit’s 12-game winning streak. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last previous time the Yankees defeated an opponent on a winning streak of at least 12 games was in August 1995 against the Red Sox.

Yankees starter Ivan Nova, who was in position for the victory until Mariano Rivera blew the save in the ninth inning, gave up one run, eight hits, two walks, a hit batter and a wild pitch with seven strikeouts in seven innings. The righthander became the first Yankees pitcher to toss at least seven innings and allow no more than three earned runs in six straight starts since CC Sabathia did so in eight straight starts June 15-Aug. 1, 2011 and the first right-handed Yankees starter to do so since Mike Mussina in six consecutive starts April 9-May 7, 2003. Nova has held opponents scoreless in 19 of his past 21 innings.

Rivera sustained his second consecutive blown save after allowing a game-tying two-run home run to Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera with two outs in the ninth (also Wednesday night at Chicago). Mo has blown back-to-back save opportunities for the first time since April 19 and 24, 2011 and had a streak of 23 consecutive converted save opportunities against Detroit dating to July 8, 1999 ended.

Disabled first baseman Mark Teixeira will ring the Opening Bell at the New York Stock Exchange Monday.

Yanks overcome Mo’s 2nd straight blown save

Miguel Cabrera may not win a second consecutive Triple Crown, but a second straight American League Most Valuable Player Award is not out of the question. In a remarkable at-bat in the top of the ninth inning in which he twisted his left knee and fouled a ball off his left shin, Cabrera stayed upright enough to power a 2-2 cutter from Mariano Rivera into the netting over Yankee Stadium’s Monument Park in center field for a game-tying home run.

It was the 34th homer of the season for Cabrera, who hobbled around the batter’s box throughout the at-bat. He leads the AL in batting (.360) and RBI (108) but is a distant second in home runs (by seven) to Orioles first baseman Chris Davis. The home run also scored Austin Jackson, who doubled with one out for his fourth hit and third two-bagger in the game.

That was the second straight blown save for Rivera, who also gave it up Wednesday night at Chicago, but only his fourth in 39 opportunities this year. In such situations, looking back at missed scoring chances haunted the Yankees, who had one hit (a double by Robinson Cano in the third inning) in 12 at-bats with runners in scoring position. Major culprits were the 4-5-6 hitters – Alfonso Soriano, Alex Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson, who were a combined 0-for-12 with seven strikeouts in regulation.

Ironically, it was that part of the order that helped construct the winning rally in the 10th when Cabrera’s lack of mobility played a part in the Yankees’ 4-3 victory that ended Detroit’s 12-game winning streak.

Jayson Nix, who replaced Rodriguez defensively at third base in the ninth, led off the 10th with a walk. He began the at-bat with a bunt down the third base line based on testing Cabrera’s wobbly left leg that went foul. Granderson followed with a single to right. A key play was a wild pitch by Al Alburquerque, the Tigers’ seventh pitcher, on a third strike to Lyle Overbay that served the same purpose as a sacrifice.

That forced the Tigers to walk Eduardo Nunez to load the bases to create a situation where there was a force at every base. Alburquerque got a big strikeout of Chris Stewart before Brett Gardner punched a single to the left of Cabrera, who dived for the ball but could not stop it. It was the third hit of the game for Gardner, who also scored twice and stole a base.

It was an important victory for the Yankees coming off four straight losses to substandard clubs (Padres, White Sox) and guaranteed that their record cannot fall below .500 in this series against one of the league’s powerhouses.

Yanks’ pitchers stumbling out of gate

Much of the concern about the 2013 Yankees has centered on the offense, what with the loss of 194 home runs in players gone from the 2012 team and the season-opening injuries to four key position players – Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson. What the Yankees were counting on to offset the lineup changes was quality pitching. Yet it is the pitching that has been a main culprit in the club’s 1-4 start.

Saturday’s 8-4 loss to the Tigers was the latest example of shabby pitching. The Yankees were hoping for a boost from Phil Hughes, removed from the disabled list and thrust into the rotation over David Phelps, who returned to long relief. Well, Phelps got into the game anyway because Hughes lasted only three batters into the fifth inning and was hit hard – four runs (three earned) and eight hits.

Boone Logan, the Yankees’ lone lefthander in the bullpen, had another troublesome outing against Detroit’s left-handed hitters. Friday, he yielded a three-run home run to Prince Fielder, who was the first batter Logan faced again in the fifth inning Saturday. Logan kept Fielder in the park this time, but a single gave the Detroit first baseman his sixth RBI of the series. Logan gave up an RBI single later in the inning to another left-handed hitter, Andy Dirks.

The Yankees came back from a 5-1 deficit to make it a one-run game by scoring three runs in the sixth. A tiring Max Scherzer walked Robinson Cano and Kevin Youkilis to start the inning and yielded a single to Travis Hafner that resulted in the righthander’s departure. Al Alburquerque walked Vernon Wells to load the bases, but Brennan Boesch lined into a double play. After another walk, Alburquerque gave up a two-run single to Lyle Overbay.

Just when the Yankees got back into the game, Phelps failed to produce a shut-down inning and allowed two runs in the bottom of the sixth as the Tigers began to pull away again. Joba Chamberlain, whose ERA is a glaring 21.60, was wild (two walks, one wild pitch) in allowing a run in the eighth.

The Tigers finished with 17 hits, including four by Miguel Cabrera and three apiece by Austin Jackson and Torii Hunter. It could have been worse for the Yankees, but Detroit had 4-for-15 (.267) with runners in scoring position.

The amount of hits Yankees pitchers have allowed is alarming – 61 in five games, an average of 12.2 knocks per game. Opponents are batting .339 in 180 at-bats against the Yanks. Meanwhile, Yankees hitters are batting only .219 in 160 at-bats. They do have six home runs (Wells got his second of the season Saturday), so the power outage expected has not actually materialized, but the offense has been unable to compensate for the pitching problems. The Yankees have been outscored, 33-17. Detroit relievers have combined for seven scoreless innings against the Yanks the past two games.

Staff ace CC Sabathia gets the opportunity to be a stopper Sunday in the series finale at Comerica Park. One major hurdle, however, is that the Tigers’ scheduled starter is Justin Verlander. It is a dream matchup of former American League Cy Young Award winners, and the pressure is on CC to turn the staff in a positive direction.

Tigers deal early KO to CC

CC Sabathia had been every inch of his 6-foot-7 frame the Yankees’ ace down the stretch of the regular season and in the American League Division Series. What better guy to have on the hill to avert an early exit in the AL Championship Series than the big lefthander whose career record in postseason play for the Yanks entering Game 4 Thursday at Detroit was 7-1 with a 3.09 ERA?

Yet after coming within one out of pitching two complete-game victories over the Orioles in the ALDS, Sabathia’s lone outing in the ALCS was nowhere near up to par. He was hit often and hit hard, and his fourth-inning exit trailing 6-0 was a disappointing sight to Yankees fans.

They had been able to rely on him most of the year, especially in that complete-game gem CC tossed six days ago at Yankee Stadium to finally shake the Orioles off the Yanks’ tail. He even had an extra day’s rest because of Wednesday night’s rainout, although that may not have been to his advantage, since it meant Sabathia could not come back and start Game 7 if the Yankees were fortunate enough to push the series that far.

One of the six runs Sabathia allowed in his 3 2/3 innings was unearned due to an error by first baseman Mark Teixeira, but CC was not at the top of his game. The Yankees had not had the lead in this series and trailed right at the beginning of this game as well when Sabathia gave up a run on two-out singles by Prince Fielder and Delmon Young.

The unearned run came in the third, but Sabathia recovered by getting out of a bases-loaded jam. The next inning, however, CC was lit up on two-run home runs by Miguel Cabrera and Jhonny Peralta before yielding a double to Andy Dirks that ended his day. As bad as 6-0 looked, it could have been a lot worse, considering the Tigers stranded eight runners over the first four innings.

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