The Detroit Tigers boast an offense that features MVP-caliber hitters Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. However, they are far from the only good hitters on the team. The biggest blow today was actually struck by young left fielder Andy Dirks, who torched Yankees starter Freddy Garcia for a three-run homer in the top of the first inning to give Detroit an early 3-0 lead. I would be remiss if I did not mention that the Dirks homer came immediately after another first-inning, two-out intentional walk signaled by Yankees manager Joe Girardi. Fielder is certainly a terrific hitter, but there was only a runner on first base at the time. Intentionally putting runners in scoring position is rarely a good decision, and unsurprisingly, it came back to haunt the Yankees. (Edit: As WWJD noted, the walk was only intentional because the last pitch was intentional; there were already three balls on Cabrera. So it was just Garcia sucking. Yay.)
Nick Swisher responded with a solo homer in the bottom of the first against lefty starter Drew Smyly (who is only a year older than me... weird), but fortunately for Detroit, Garcia returned to the mound in the top of the second. The Tigers hitters were not being fooled at all by Garcia's smoke-and-mirrors act, as nearly every batter hit him hard in the inning. 2011 All-Star Alex Avila lined a single off him to start the inning, and a popout and lineout later, Austin Jackson lined another single to centerfield. Avila came around to score on a Brennan Boesch double, and the Tigers notched two more runs on a single by Cabrera. The score was 6-1 Tigers, and that was the end of the day for Garcia. As WWJD retweeted, Garcia's 12.10 ERA is the highest among all major league starters, and it sure hasn't been pretty watching him pitch. He hasn't been keeping the Yankees in the game at all in any of his starts thus far, and the Yankees need to make a decision soon about whether he should stay in the rotation or not. Hint: he probably should not.
The Yankees were not able to muster much offense against Smyly during his six innings of work. He allowed just one hit and two walks aside from the Swisher homer, and he struck out seven Yankees. The kid pitched well, so he certainly deserves some credit for shutting down such a good offense. The Detroit bullpen allowed the Yankees to crawl back into the game after Smyly's departure though. Former Yankee Phil Coke allowed a homer to Curtis Granderson in the seventh inning, and although the Yankees went down in order against Octavio Dotel, tap-dancing sensation Jose Valverde struggled against them in the ninth. The offense chipped away at the five-run deficit, thanks to Swisher's second homer of the day, a Granderson RBI single, and a Raul Ibanez pinch-hit double, but although they sent the tying run up to the plate, it was ultimately "too little, too late." It's difficult to win games where the pitching surrenders seven runs, and the Yankees were simply unable to overcome Garcia's ineptitude.
Other notes from the game:
- The bullpen certainly did its job keeping the game from getting out of hand. Clay Rapada, David Phelps, and Cody Eppley combined to allow only two hits and one run (a homer by Cabrera against Eppley... just an unfair matchup) in 7.1 innings. Phelps pitched particularly well, as he held the Tigers hitless in three innings. But you know, bullpen forever.
- Derek Jeter notched his 1,000th career walk. So that's fun I guess. Another day, another milestone for the Captain.
- Andruw Jones and Russell Martin both went hitless today, as their batting averages fell to .143 and .176 respectively. Neither has hit well at all thus far, save for a few homers, and the Yankees will need them to turn it around at the plate soon.
- Curtis Granderson > Jackson and Coke. This just needs to be said whenever the Yankees and Tigers are playing against each other.