Detroit sock city: Yanks hammer Price, gain in WC race
Nine straight hits in third help NY get within 2 1/2 games of Seattle
DETROIT -- The Yankees have been talking about the importance of seeing quality at-bats throughout their order, one through nine, over this winning week. In one memorable inning Wednesday night at Comerica Park, every hitter in the lineup delivered on that promise.
Taking their swings at the record books, nine straight Yankees stroked hits off David Price to produce eight third-inning runs, powering an 8-4 win over the Tigers that moved New York within 2 1/2 games of Seattle for the second American League Wild Card spot.
"It's a great feeling. It takes the pressure off the offense. It takes it off the pitcher," said Jacoby Ellsbury, who started the big frame with a single. "Obviously, it's the difference in the game, but that's nice when you can string hits together like that. Good things will happen, and you're going to score some runs when that happens."
The Yankees, who also pulled within six games of the Orioles in the AL East race, have seen plenty of Price over the years -- but never like this. Seven different players drove in runs as the Yankees became the first AL team since Detroit in 1996 to collect nine straight hits in an inning.
"It's fun, but you don't see that very often," Derek Jeter said. "We had some good at-bats. We were lucky we found some holes; that's why you play the games. Price is as good as anyone in baseball, so we were fortunate, but we needed it."
Price called it "probably the worst game I've ever had in my life," marked by the most consecutive hits in a big league inning since the Cardinals had nine straight last Sept. 6 against the Pirates. The Major League record is 12, set by the 1920 Cardinals and equaled by the 1930 Brooklyn Robins.
"It's surprising to get three or four hits against him over the first couple of innings, to be honest, as good as he is," Brett Gardner said. "We just had some things go our way. Some balls fall; some guys swinging the bats well. It was a big inning for us."
Shane Greene gladly accepted the run support, defeating the Tigers for the second time in three weeks. The rookie right-hander limited the Tigers to two runs and five hits over seven innings, striking out eight.
"Sometimes you think, 'Hurry up, I want to get back out there,'" Greene said. "But it's nice when a team can go out there and put up runs like that."
Greene also defeated Detroit in a 1-0 decision on Aug. 7 in New York, but didn't have to sweat quite so much this time. Detroit chipped away with late runs off Adam Warren and Dellin Betances as manager Joe Girardi deployed his bullpen to secure a victory that the Yankees desperately wanted to lock down.
Price hadn't allowed nine hits in any of his last 10 starts, but there were warning signs for a rough night ahead as he needed 43 pitches to navigate the first two innings. Jeter had two RBIs in the third inning, starting the damage with a run-scoring double to right field.
The Yankees stayed on Price's pitches as Mark Teixeira, Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann followed with three consecutive RBI hits, sparking an inning the likes of which Girardi guessed he'd seen "maybe in a Little League game."
"Sometimes it just happens; the game doesn't always make sense when it happens," Girardi said. "He's as good as it gets, but we were able to hit some balls in the holes and it worked out."
Brett Gardner and Francisco Cervelli also collected run-scoring singles before Tigers manager Brad Ausmus finally claimed the ball from Price, who recorded no swings and misses in the inning.
"It just reached a point where he was running out of steam and even the balls that weren't hit well were finding holes," Ausmus said.
Blaine Hardy recorded the first out on an Ellsbury sacrifice fly, and Jeter lifted a sac fly to push home the eighth run charged to Price.
"It's tough to get that many hits, even if the guys hit the balls on the screws," Ellsbury said. "Fortunately we got some good swings on balls and some balls fell for us."
Gardner said that the Yankees didn't realize they'd knocked nine straight hits until later, when some pitchers watching the TV broadcast wandered into the dugout to spread the word. The Yankees, who had a five-game winning streak snapped on Tuesday, used that cushion to avoid falling into a skid.
New York's bats were quiet the rest of the way, as Detroit's bullpen reeled off seven scoreless innings, but the Tigers managed only Miguel Cabrera's fourth-inning RBI double and Victor Martinez's sixth-inning solo homer off Greene; the Yankees have won each of Greene's last five starts.
"It's important. We're talking about winning series, but the other thing is who we're playing," Girardi said. "This is one of the teams in front of us. It's the last time we see them and the only chance to make up ground that we can rely on ourselves, so we need to win."