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Yankees 3, Tigers 4: Didi shines in an otherwise frustrating loss

Sir Didi may have been a bright spot, but it was a dreary affair.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at New York Yankees Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

It’s not a great sign, but this game looked a lot like Sunday’s 5-3 loss against the Rays. The Yankees were just 2-9 with runners in scoring position, and those two hits were both from Didi Gregorius. Like in that game, there were a lot of chances to break through, this time against a pretty poor pitcher, but they just couldn’t get the job done.

CC Sabathia did not have a great night, but I give him a lot of credit for still getting through six innings without being knocked out or ejected. No, seriously. Sabathia was barking at home plate umpire Mike Estabrook the whole evening, and despite the fact he did have a very inconsistent strike zone, he did have the courtesy of addressing his concerns to Joe Girardi without tossing him.

Sabathia’s troubles started in the second inning. After allowing a single to Miguel Cabrera and a double to Nick Castellanos, he was able to force a fielder’s choice that put runners on the corners and set up a possible double play ball. John Hicks came up, and worked a deep, ten-pitch count, partially benefiting from the tight strike zone of Estabrook. Instead of a strikeout, Hicks hit one into the right field seats and put the Tigers up 3-0. Sabathia had one more mistake that night, in the very next inning, a diving slider that Justin Upton golfed over the left field wall to give the Tigers a four-run lead.

The Yankees cut that lead in half in the bottom of the fourth, as Gary Sanchez doubled to set up a Gregorius laser-beam two-run home run over the short porch. That was Sanchez’s only real mistake, and he finished with just two earned runs over six innings. He only had three strikeouts, and that just speaks to the fact that he didn’t real own them, and the Yankees just couldn’t capitalize.

The Yankees threatened in both the eighth and the ninth, but really to no avail. In the eighth the Tigers had Alex Wilson, and he got Aaron Judge to pop out but allowed a single to Sanchez, who then advanced to second on an error from Upton. Daniel Stumpf came in, and once again, Gregorius came through with a single to bring the deficit to just one. Then, closer Shane Greene came in for the five-out save, and successfully got Matt Holliday to ground into a double play.

In the ninth, the Yankees tried once again. Greene got two quick outs—Chase Headley grounded out and Todd Frazier struck out. Jacoby Ellsbury, pinch-hitting for Tyler Wade, worked a walk, and then on an attempted pick-off, advanced all the way to third. Greene then intentionally walked the red-hot Brett Gardner. Gardner even stole second, setting up the potential winning run. That brought up Clint Frazier for a possibly heroic situation, and he responded with a pop out.

This was a really disappointing game. The Yankees were facing an inferior team and inferior pitcher who wasn’t even as locked in as the line would suggest, and they had a number of opportunities against him. The bright spot is that Gregorius had a great game, Holliday picked up a couple of hits, and the bullpen tossed three scoreless innings between Adam Warren and David Robertson.

The Yankees will try to win the series in a Wednesday matinee; Masahiro Tanaka will face Jordan Zimmermann at 1:05 PM EST at the Stadium. You can watch the game on YES or, or sneak a listen on WFAN at work.