I am not in Detroit tonight. No, I’m in another city, another state far away from where the Yankees and Tigers played their second game of the last regular season series in Detroit. I watched the first third of the game from an Asian buffet restaurant, enjoying dinner with my family. They happened to have the game on. It was while I was dining on cheap sushi and pepper chicken that I witnessed what can only be described as the Tigers’ pitching implosion. By the time the fortune cookies arrived, the damage was done, and the Yankees were on track to win this game.
Shane Greene, on the mound to start tonight’s game, was really outstanding, going 101 pitches over his 7 innings, giving up 5 hits and 2 runs, and striking out 8 Detroit batters. And honestly, what makes this the most impressive is that the Tigers have a really great offense, one of the best in the league, and the rookie pitcher managed to out-pitch the best of them. He should be very proud of his outing tonight.
Now, when I found out who was pitching tonight for the Tigers, I had the initial dread moment like I did on Monday night. The Yankees were up against a former Rays’ pitcher (like Monday), a former Cy Young Award winner, and honestly, a really sharp pitcher. (Trivia points here: the Tiger’s pitcher Price was the same pitcher who gave up Jeter’s 3000th hit in 2011, when Price was still with the Rays.) But maybe the Yankees have Price’s number. Or maybe it was just a really bad night for him.
The 1st inning was rough for the Tigers, Price throwing 28 pitches to the Yankees, but keeping them scoreless. He lucked out in the 2nd inning, getting a lucky ground out and a double play after giving up 2 singles, still scoreless. But that wicked 3rd inning… (wicked good if you’re a Yankee fan, wicked bad if you’re not, I guess). Buckle up, here we go…
Ellsbury singled and stole 2nd; Jeter doubled and scored Ellsbury; Prado singled; Teixeira doubled and scored Jeter; Beltran singled and scored Prado; McCann singled and scored Teixeira; Headley singled to load the bases; Gardner singled and scored Beltran, keeping the bases loaded; Cervelli singled and scored McCann, bases still loaded. And that was 6 runs, one full rotation through the entire lineup, 9 straight hits, bases loaded, and absolutely no outs. The Tigers finally gave up and pulled Price (final line: 68 pitches, 2 inning, 12 hits, 8 runs, 1 walk, and 3 strike outs), opting for an early bullpen relief. The new pitcher got a quick 3 outs, but 2 of Price’s runs would score on sacrifice flies. Middle of the 3rd inning and it was 8-0 Yankees.
As a quick note here, the Tigers bullpen only gave up 2 hits to the Yankees after Price was pulled, and no more runs would score. Of course, they had to use a total of 5 pitchers over 7 innings.
Now, back to the Yankee defense… Greene’s excellent pitching was certainly aided by the Yankee defense. He had a couple of weak moments — an RBI double in the 4th and a 2-out solo home run in the 6th. And that’s it. (8-2 Yankees) Outstanding.
Adam Warren took the 8th, giving up a 2-out RBI triple (8-3 Yankees), and Dellin Betances’ 9th inning allowed an RBI single to make it 8-4 Yankees. It wasn’t going to be enough. Sure, I knew the Tigers would be able to chip away at that lead, but an 8-run deficit so early in the game was going to be monstrous for the Tigers. It just wasn’t going to happen. And I can’t say I’m not happy about that.
[And if you’re wondering about the Shawn Kelley horse head mask, here’s a video clip to explain. It’s not really relevant to the game, but it certainly made me (and many of Kelley’s teammates) laugh, so enjoy!]
Before the game, the Tigers honored fellow Michigander Derek Jeter, inviting his parents, sister, and nephew to join him in the celebration. The Tigers gifted Turn 2 with a $5,000 donation. They also presented Jeter with twin stadium seats from the old Tiger Stadium and a piece of art that replicated Jeter playing ball as a high school student in Kalamazoo (about 2 hours west of Detroit), as a young player in Tiger Stadium, and recently at Comerica Park. I imagine this was one of those places that meant the most to Jeter. The back of his baseball card may say “New Jersey”, but Jeter grew up in Michigan. It’s home. It’s where Turn 2 started 18 years ago. It’s where he was scouted and signed to the Yankees 22 years ago. It’s home.