Vintage effort fitting for Old-Timers' Day
With legends in the Bronx, Yankees score 14 runs in rout of Tigers
NEW YORK -- The Yankees had Old-Timers' Day on Saturday and then proceeded to play as though this was 1927.
Or maybe 1939. Or 1961. Or 1998. Pick one of those years when the Yankees were truly dominant and the rest of baseball sometimes seemed to exist largely as second bananas, supporting acts and designated victims.
At the end of Saturday night, the Yankees had defeated the Tigers, 14-3. Let's keep in mind that the opposition was not exactly the St. Louis Browns. The Tigers have won four straight American League Central titles. They may be only a .500 club as we speak, but they still have a lineup with Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, J.D. Martinez, Ian Kinsler, Yoenis Cespedes, etc.
And you wouldn't have guessed at anything like this outcome by looking at the pitching matchup. Detroit's starter, Alfredo Simon, came to this game with a 2.58 ERA. The Yankees' starter, Nathan Eovaldi, entered with a 5.12 ERA.
So naturally, Simon, who was a member of the National League All-Star team last year, was rocked for seven runs in 2 2/3 innings. Eovaldi, meanwhile, pitched six shutout innings before allowing two runners in the seventh that eventually scored after he had left the game.
It is possible that the Yankees were inspired by the genuinely touching pregame ceremonies honoring Willie Randolph and Mel Stottlemyre. The Yankees do these Old-Timers' events as well as they can be done, and their singular history makes each of their Old-Timers' events a plausible celebration.
The Yankees were up, 13-0, in the fifth inning. Alex Rodriguez, after recording his 3,000th hit on Friday night, had driven in five runs in the first three innings, including three on hit No. 3,001, a three-run blast.
Brett Gardner was three-fourths of the way to hitting for the cycle in the first three innings, going triple, double, single. When he came up in the fourth history was in his grasp, but he grounded into a double play. But there was no need for further individual heroics when the team concept was going so well.
From the Yankees' side this was a splendid night, an ideal end to a heartwarming day. From the other side, there was nothing to recommend this experience.
"We got our butts whipped," said Tigers manager Brad Ausmus. "There's not much to it. They pitched better, hit better and outscored us easy. It was really all New York tonight."
That is the way Yankees fans believe the games should go -- all New York. The game was glorious enough for the Yankees that it was troubling to the Tigers, calling for a postgame discussion.
"I talked to the team, that's been done," Ausmus said, although he declined to get into specifics.
How good was Eovaldi? He had held the Tigers to one run over seven innings in a victory over them in April.
"I know he's pitched very well against us in two outings," Ausmus said. "He's a hard thrower. He obviously does something against our hitters that has worked very well."
"They came out swinging, everything was falling for them, nothing for us," said Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez, who was playing in his second game since coming off the disabled list. "Their guy pitched a great game. It's over."
That's the best thing the Tigers could say about this contest; it had ended. For the Yankees, the franchise got to celebrate portions of its storied past and then got to celebrate a one-sided, wall-to-wall, dominating victory.
The Yankees tied a season high with five homers. The 14 runs also matched a season high. They hit the ball all over the yard. Their pitching was effective and more. Their defense made all the plays that needed to be made.
At the close of business they had their fourth straight victory and were one game out of first place. No, this is not 1927 or '39 or '61 or '98. But between Old-Timers' Day and a big Bronx Bombers-type performance, these were clearly still Yankees.