Tigers take heated nightcap to split twin bill

Tensions flare between Fiers, Stanton on HBP; bullpen stifles Yanks down stretch

June 5th, 2018

DETROIT -- Tensions were high Monday night when the Tigers beat the Yankees, 4-2, to split their doubleheader at Comerica Park and put an end to their 12-game homestand.

The Tigers lost the first game Monday afternoon, 7-4, as the two teams made up postponed games originally scheduled for April 15.

In the middle of a second consecutive successful outing for Tigers starter Mike Fiers (5-3), the right-hander hit Giancarlo Stanton in the arm with an 89-mph fastball during the third inning. Visibly upset, Stanton was slow walking to first and the benches rose, but the exchange amounted to nothing more than a free base, thanks in large part to catcher James McCann walking Stanton all the way down to first.

It was Fiers who hit Stanton, then with the Marlins, in the jaw in a scary incident in September 2014, which ended his season.

"I understand ... but the way he handled it, I think it was kind of childish," said Fiers, who served up Stanton's 13th home run three innings later. "Anybody knows I'm not throwing at him. He's gonna act how he's gonna act. It kind of shows his character, because obviously I wasn't throwing at him."

"I'm not trying to stir this up, that just is what it is, obviously," Stanton said. "Anything like that that happens, no matter how many years it is, I'm not going to be happy. I'm not going to just walk to first and be OK, but it is what it is."

That was one of the few blemishes for Fiers, who threw 5 2/3 innings, allowing two runs and striking out six.

Despite Fiers' strong outing, the Yankees had ample opportunities to plate more than two runs against him. In the third and fourth innings, the Yankees had a runner on third with one out, but they couldn't score.

In the third, following an RBI triple from Brett Gardner, the Yankees loaded the bases with a walk and Stanton's hit-by-pitch. Gleyber Torres then dribbled a ball back to Fiers, who tossed the ball home for the forceout. An inning later, with Miguel Andujar on third and one out, Fiers struck out Tyler Austin and then forced Clint Frazier into a groundout.

"You just have to be careful," said manager Ron Gardenhire about facing such a dangerous lineup. "There's so many good hitters. You make mistakes, and a veteran pitcher like that knows how to work his way around it and get them to chase."

Fiers was facing an enormous task after the Yankees put up seven runs on Tigers starter Drew VerHagen in Game 1. Some of that power lingered into the evening when Stanton gained a measure of payback with a 456-foot home run to left in the sixth inning. Fiers compensated by, among other things, striking out Yankees slugger Aaron Judge three times in three at-bats. Judge went on to strike out in all five of his plate appearances, taking his total for the doubleheader to eight.

After the Tigers built a 3-2 lead off Domingo German (0-4) with a sacrifice fly from Ronny Rodriguez and RBI doubles from McCann and Jeimer Candelario, a Miguel Cabrera double in the seventh forced the Yankees to go to their bullpen. Adam Warren took the mound and gave up an RBI double to Victor Martinez to help cushion the Tigers' lead.

Louis Coleman, who struck out Judge for a fourth time, worked through 1 1/3 scoreless innings to back up Fiers' start. Joe Jimenez came on in the eighth and retired the Yankees in order.

"Coleman and Jimenez, those guys have been really good getting the ball to [closer Shane] Greene," said Gardenhire. "Coleman came in and got four big outs for us. That was a huge part of the ballgame."

Shane Greene recorded his 15th save of the season.


As the Tigers were nursing a one-run lead in the sixth, Coleman came on in relief of Fiers and immediately walked Frazier to load the bases with two outs and the top of the Yankees' order coming up. Gardner jumped at the first pitch he saw, an 89-mph fastball down the heart of the plate, and flied out to left fielder Victor Reyes. It was the second time the Yankees had come up empty with the bases loaded.

"I'm always nervous," Coleman said of the jam. "It's part of the game. It's more of an anxious feeling, I guess. I made some pitches I wanted to make. Frazier laid off of them. I thought it was a pretty good little battle, so when Gardner came up, I just thought, 'All right, next guy.'"


"They don't give up. They're in every ballgame. That's the way a baseball team should be. You should never think you're out of it until they get three outs. That's what this team does. I'm really proud of them, the way they've been playing. I love the energy in the dugout, and it hasn't stopped since we started the season." -- Gardenhire


The Tigers head east for a three-game series with the Red Sox, starting with a 7:10 p.m. ET first pitch at Fenway Park on Tuesday. Hampered by the injury of Francisco Liriano, the Tigers will start Artie Lewicki (0-0, 3.60 ERA). Lewicki has been in the Tigers' bullpen and will be making his second career start. The Red Sox will start knuckleballer Steven Wright (1-0, 2.25 ERA), who is also making a spot start.