Yankees edge Tigers after Tanaka-Anibal duel
DETROIT -- The New York Yankees became the first team to cool off the Tigers, in part by lighting up Detroit's bullpen at Comerica Park. In Thursday's series finale, it was the difference in the game, with Jacoby Ellsbury doubling and scoring off Tom Gorzelanny in the eighth inning for a 2-1 Yankees win.
With a 33-degree temperature at first pitch, both offenses were similarly cool for much of the day, combining for four hits over 6 1/3 innings against Anibal Sanchez and Masahiro Tanaka. The Tigers converted a leadoff double from Anthony Gose into a Victor Martinez sacrifice fly in the first inning but never added on, giving the Yankees and Ellsbury a chance to take advantage.
"We were all playing in the same weather," Martinez said. "They did things better than we did. There were no excuses for nothing. They were playing in the same weather."
Ellsbury seemingly moved at a different speed than the rest of the ballpark, stealing second base and bluffing his way into a game-tying balk from Sanchez in the sixth. He took an aggressive turn around first base and got a double out of a liner into left-center field in front of Gose during the eighth. Brett Gardner sacrificed Ellsbury to third base before Brian McCann hit a sharp ground ball that first baseman Miguel Cabrera couldn't corral with enough time to throw home.
"That's what he can do. He creates and puts a lot of pressure on the defense," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Ellsbury. "He's going to take advantage of the extra base when he can. He did it today and it paid off a lot."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Tanaka cruises into seventh: Starting on normal rest for the first time this season, Tanaka gave up a leadoff double, a hard-hit groundout and a walk to the first three batters he faced. After that, he retired 18 of Detroit's next 19 hitters. The first of those outs, a Martinez sacrifice fly, gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead, but they couldn't manufacture much offense against Tanaka after that. More >
"I feel like when he's hitting the mitt, he's really hard to hit. He had everything going," McCann said. "He got a lot of early count outs, which I think is a big deal for him to pitch deep into ballgames."
Lamont wants the lefty … now: With Brad Ausmus ejected for arguing the balk call on Sanchez in the sixth, bench coach Gene Lamont took over managerial duties. And when a Sanchez wild pitch moved the go-ahead run into scoring position, Lamont made the rare mound visit rather than pitching coach Jeff Jones to pull Sanchez in favor of lefty Gorzelanny with a 1-1 count to Garrett Jones. Gorzelanny struck out Jones, then survived a long fly ball to deep right field to end the threat.
Betances, Miller shut it down: Reliever Dellin Betances entered the game with two on and two outs in the seventh and teamed up with left-hander Andrew Miller to retire the last seven Tigers in order. Betances seemingly returned to his dominant 2014 form, while Miller produced several uncomfortable swings from the heart of Detroit's lineup.
"We have as much power as I've ever had in this bullpen," Girardi said. "It has a chance to be really special."
Ani-balk: Sanchez gave up a lone hit over 6 1/3 innings, but he paid for one of his four walks when Ellsbury bluffed him into a game-tying balk, shifting from pitch to pitchout in mid-delivery. Ausmus argued the call from third-base umpire Gerry Davis and was ejected. More >
"I thought he was going to home plate," Sanchez said of Ellsbury, "especially in that situation. That's what I thought when I saw him take 3-4 steps."
"That makes for good drama, but umpires get the call right. A balk's a balk. If he didn't balk, then he didn't balk, but he did." -- Alex Avila, on the delay before umpires called Sanchez for the game-tying balk
"We knew we were better than our record showed, but it just took some time for us to get rolling. Hopefully we continue that." -- Mark Teixeira, on the Yankees' 7-3 road trip
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Tigers posted four wins with one or two runs scored over the past week and a half. Thursday marked Detroit's first loss of the season when allowing two runs or fewer.
Yankees: Michael Pineda will take the mound Friday as the Yankees clash with the red-hot Mets to begin a three-game series at Yankee Stadium at 7:05 p.m. ET. Reigning National League Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom is slated to start for the Mets, who have won 11 straight games.
Tigers: Shane Greene will try Friday to become the first Tiger to win his first four starts to a season since Frank Tanana in 1988, but he'll have to get through an Indians lineup that can chew up right-handed sinkerballers. Danny Salazar starts for Cleveland to open the three-game divisional clash at Comerica Park. First pitch is scheduled for 7:08 p.m.
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