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Yankees 2, Tigers 4: New York blows winnable game

Sloppy defense, wasted opportunities on offense, and questionable managerial decisions cost the Yankees their sixth straight win.

Giancarlo Stanton hit his 13th home run of the year tonight in the losing effort for the Yankees.
Giancarlo Stanton hit his 13th home run of the year tonight in the losing effort for the Yankees.
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

They say it’s tough to win doubleheaders, but that’s no excuse. Sloppy defense, wasted opportunities on offense, and questionable managerial decisions cost the Yankees their sixth straight win. New York dropped the nightcap of the split-admission twinbill to the Tigers 4-2 at Comerica Park.

The Tigers drew first blood in a scary bottom of the second. Leonys Martin led off with a double which deflected off German’s hand and into left field. German was examined during an injury delay, but thankfully appeared to be unhurt and remained in the game. The Yankees failed to escape unscathed, though. Martin moved to third on a Gary Sanchez passed ball and scored on a Ronny Rodriguez sacrifice fly.

The Yankees tied the score immediately in the third. Clint Frazier lined a one-out single to center. With Frazier running on the pitch, Brett Gardner launched a drive into the right-center field gap which rolled all the way to wall. Frazier scored easily, while Gardy legged out his second triple of the year. After Aaron Judge struck out looking, Gary Sanchez drew a five-pitch walk. Then came another scary moment in the game.

Tigers starter Mike Fiers threw a pitch up and in to Giancarlo Stanton, which struck the defending NL MVP in the elbow. Stanton glowered at Fiers as he trudged slowly up the first-base line. Fiers, for his part, could be seen saying “I didn’t mean it.” Still, Stanton was understandably upset. Fiers, after all, was the pitcher who beaned him in the face while he was playing for the Marlins, causing Stanton to miss almost a year.

Benches didn’t clear, but an extended delay ensued while home-plate umpire Alan Porter conferred with Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire. When play resumed, Fiers induced Gleyber Torres on a little comebacker. Fiers easily threw Gardner out at home for the inning-ending force play.

Failing to score with a runner on third and one out — and then with the bases loaded and two outs — in that frame wasn’t the only opportunity the Bombers squandered. They also wasted a two-out double by Miguel Andujar in the second, when Neil Walker struck out. Andujar then rocketed his 20th double of the year to lead off the fourth. This time, Walker did his part by moving him along to third on a grounder to second base, but Tyler Austin struck out and Frazier grounded out to end the inning.

Detroit took a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the fourth, thanks in part to more sloppy New York defense. Martin led off with a single, and James McCann doubled him home to tie the score. German got Rodriguez to ground out to third, which held the runner in place. Victor Reyes then flied out to center, and German appeared to have wiggled out of the jam when he induced Jeimer Castellanos to hit a weak pop up to shallow left field. Third baseman Andujar and left fielder Frazier converged. Either could have caught it easily, but neither did. The miscue was called a double — even though Andujar got a glove on it — and the runner scored easily for Detroit’s third run.

New York got one back in the top of the sixth. Stanton led off by crushing an 0-2 pitch that landed deep in the left-field seats. The line drive traveled 456 feet and left the yard in 4.8 seconds, according to Statcast. The bomb was Stanton’s 13th of the year.

Fiers entered the game with a career 6.20 ERA against the Yankees across four starts, but he held the Bombers largely at bay today. New York had him on his heels most of the day, and finally drove him from the game in the sixth inning.

Following Stanton’s bomb, Torres grounded out and Andujar drew a four-pitch walk. Walker flied out, and Austin singled, so the Tigers went to the bullpen. Journeyman Louis Coleman came on and walked Frazier. The Yankees missed another bases-loaded opportunity when Gardner flied out to end the inning.

The Tigers chased German in the seventh. The rookie retired the first two batters, but Miguel Cabrera jumped on the first pitch he saw and lined a double to center field. That was all for German. Despite a rested bullpen, Aaron Boone inexplicably went to the just-activated and rusty Adam Warren in a winnable game.

The puzzling decision was also made to pitch to Victor Martinez with first base open. The veteran slugger promptly ripped Warren’s 2-0 offering down the right-field line for an RBI double. Warren then walked Niko Goodum and Martin to load the bases, but the Yankees escaped without further damage when McCann flied out.

German pitched much better than his line score and deserved a better fate. He was charged with four earned runs over 6 2/3 innings, but two of those runs wouldn’t have scored at all if it wasn’t for the shoddy defense. The snakebitten German will have to wait until his next start to try and nail down his first MLB win.

New York threatened against Tigers closer Shane Greene in the ninth, but once again came away empty. Aaron Hicks, pinch-hitting for Frazier, led off with a single and moved to second on a wild pitch. That’s as far as he got. Greene then struck out Gardner, Judge, and Sanchez to close out the win for Detroit.

With the loss, the Yankees fall to 38-18, missing a chance to go 22 games over .500 for the first time since 2012. New York stands one game up in the loss column — with four fewer wins than idle Boston — in the AL East race.

Since this bout was a make-up game from the April 15th rainout, all players on both clubs wore Jackie Robinson’s number 42 to honor the hero who first broke baseball’s color barrier. Robinson made his major league debut for the Dodgers at Ebbets Field on April 15, 1947.

Torres started at shortstop tonight for the first time in his MLB career. He was drafted as a shortstop and played most of his minor-league games there. He converted to second base after coming over to the Yankees in the Aroldis Chapman deal.

The Yankees look to get back to their winning ways tomorrow when they begin a two-game series at Toronto. CC Sabathia (2-1, 3.73 ERA) goes up against Marcos Estrada (2-6, 5.68 ERA) in the opener. First pitch is 7:07 EDT.