"They're disappointed about losing, but they continue to play," manager Ron Gardenhire said after Friday's 8-6 loss to the Yankees extended Detroit's losing streak to five after the team entered the week with a .500 record. "We're competing. We're getting after it."
The Tigers' week-long struggles followed them home from Cleveland to Comerica Park, and their first five innings looked like a repeat of the rough series finale in Cleveland on Thursday. New York's Aaron Hicks followed an inside-the-park two-run home run -- a carom off the base of the out-of-town scoreboard -- with a traditional homer. The Tigers struggled defensively for a second straight night, with Dixon Machado making a wide throw to first on what would have been an inning-ending groundout to second, allowing what turned out to be an important add-on run in the fifth.
James McCann led off the bottom of the fifth with a homer into the shrubs beyond the center-field fence that traveled a projected 437 feet, according to Statcast™. Not only did the homer end McCann's 0-for-15 slump, it seemed to awaken a lineup that produced just five runs during the four-game series sweep in Cleveland, helped by temperatures in the 50s that seemed balmy compared with their previous homestand.
The Yankees held five-run leads at three points of the game. Twice the Tigers rallied -- bringing the potential tying run to the plate against David Robertson in the seventh inning, then putting the potential tying run on base against former Tigers farmhand Chad Green in the eighth.
"The fight in this team is tremendous," McCann said. "That's something we want to carry from Game 1 through Game 162. That's something we need to do."
McCann, who entered the night batting 5-for-34, including 1-for-18 on the just-finished road trip, added a sacrifice fly in the seventh and an RBI single in the eighth. Jeimer Candelario led off the eighth with his first home run of the season, ending an 0-for-10 slump. Jose Iglesias, 2-for-37 when he stepped to the plate in the seventh, matched his hit total with a double and added an RBI single in the eighth. Victor Martinez doubled twice in a game for the first time since Aug. 25, 2016.
"We kept competing," Gardenhire said, "and we had opportunities off a pretty good bullpen."
Iglesias' single made it a two-run game and put the potential tying run on base before Green and closer Aroldis Chapman struck out Detroit's final four batters. But the Tigers, after their competitiveness seemed to wane on their way out in Cleveland, showed life.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED V-Mart gets running: Martinez's doubles were drives down both baselines, the first of them a shot inside third base and toward the corner as Nicholas Castellanos scored from first base. Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner tried to catch Martinez at second but threw wildly, allowing Martinez another base as the ball rolled behind first. That set up Martinez to score on McCann's sacrifice fly, making it a 6-3 game.
HE SAID IT "It was just me going back, finding the wall, and [when] I looked up [the ball] was at my head." -- Castellanos, on Gary Sanchez's second-inning double off the right-field wall, a ball with a 107.6-mph exit velocity that Castellanos ducked away from at the last second
UP NEXT The Tigers and Yankees will try to play a day-night doubleheader at Comerica Park on Sunday as Major League Baseball celebrates Jackie Robinson Day, as Detroit hopes to get back on a winning track. Francisco Liriano (1-1, 2.13) gets the start in the day game at 1:10 p.m. ET, followed by Matthew Boyd (0-1, 1.38) in the nightcap at 7:10 p.m.