The Yankees guaranteed themselves at least a series win with the 5-3 victory in the middle game, but tonight was all about the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera. He singled in his first three at-bats — the 241st three-hit game of his career — bringing him within one base knock of entering the 3,000 hit club. He will become the 33rd member of that elite group, and would join Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Eddie Murray, Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez, and Albert Pujols as the seventh player in history with 3,000 hits and 500 home runs, having achieved the latter feat last season.
In stark contrast to last night’s contest (and coming as quite a relief, I might add), the first inning flew by, providing a glimmer of hope that tonight would be less of a slog than the previous handful of games. Luis Severino worked around a leadoff Robbie Grossman single in the first while Eduardo Rodriguez allowed a one-out DJ LeMahieu single in the second, but nothing further in the frame.
It was pretty obvious that Severino didn’t have the A-plus stuff or command from his previous outing, and he was made to pay in the bottom of the second. Jeimer Candelario led off with a double into the right field corner. Cabrera then tapped a weak infield single to LeMahieu and busted it to first for the 2,997th hit of his career.
With runners on the corners and no outs, Victor Reyes lined a single to right to plate Candelario for the first run of the game. Perhaps emboldened by his speed down the first baseline, Cabrera tried to stretch it from first to third, but was gunned down by a precise throw from Stanton. The Tigers were apparently determined to win the TOOTBLAN game tonight, as Reyes got caught stealing on a quick throw by Kyle Higashioka and swipe tag by Gleyber Torres. Thus, the Yankees were able to escape the inning with just the lone run of damage.
Defense on display in the 2nd. pic.twitter.com/VAoskxCVHf— New York Yankees (@Yankees) April 20, 2022
It would’ve been easy for early fears of another one of “those nights” to creep in, but to their credit, the Bombers answered right back in the top of the third.
Isiah Kiner-Falefa led off with a double into the left-field corner, followed by a Higashioka walk. Aaron Hicks was robbed of a run-scoring hit by a leaping Spencer Torkelson, but Aaron Judge picked his teammate up, lining a double of his own to left to plate Kiner-Falefa and advance Higashioka to third. An Anthony Rizzo groundout allowed him to score, giving the Yankees a 2-1 lead.
2 runs on the board in the 3rd pic.twitter.com/Y2PbLoTj5C— New York Yankees (@Yankees) April 20, 2022
Severino ran into some more difficulty in the bottom of the fourth. Cabrera won an eight-pitch battle, lining a one-out single up the middle for his second hit of the night, putting the future Hall of Famer just two hits shy of the 3,000 Hit Club. Reyes followed with a single and Torkelson with a walk to load the bases. Severino seemed to put it into another gear after that, getting Harold Castro to line out and Tucker Barnhart to strike out on three straight fastballs blown right by the Detroit catcher.
Seemingly feeding off the the energy of his previous inning, Severino turned in an electric fifth frame. He struck out Grossman on a dirty changeup diving down and away. After inducing an Austin Meadows pop out, Severino humiliated Jonathan Schoop with the two best sliders he’s thrown all season to collect the strikeout and end the inning.
Untouchable 85 mph slider from Luis Severino pic.twitter.com/hXR3zrYu2v— Peter Brody (@PBrods7) April 21, 2022
Look, this was far from Severino’s best game. He couldn’t locate the fastball, which was a good two miles per hour below his season average through the first few innings. The slider either caught too much plate or missed by too much to induce a chase ... until the final two he threw. But as all top pitchers do, he scratched, clawed, and fought his way through five innings of one-run ball. Sevy’s final line on the night: five innings, seven hits, one run, two walks, and three strikeouts on 88 pitches.
The Yankees extended their lead to 3-1 in the top of the sixth on a Rizzo solo home run to right, his fourth of the year.
Chad Green came in for the bottom half, and as he did on far too many occasions last season, undid all the good work of his starting pitcher. He gave up lead offsingles to Candelario and Cabrera — the latter bringing him just one away from 3K. It looked like Green might escape the jam, but a two-out Castro double plated the pair to tie the game at 3-3.
Josh Donaldson led off the top of the seventh with a walk and was replaced by pinch-runner Tim Locastro. Torres attempted to advance him to second, but bunted right back to the pitcher. However, Drew Hutchinson chucked the ball into center trying to nab Locastro at second, allowing the latter to advance to third on the throwing error. Kiner-Falefa singled him home to retake the lead, 4-3.
Rizzo led off the top of the eighth with a double and capitalized on a momentary lapse in the defense’s concentration by stealing third with a running start. With one out, LeMahieu grounded up the first base line hard enough to allow Torkelson to throw home. It was a bang-bang play called safe on the field and later confirmed via replay to give the Yankees a 5-3 lead.
Jonathan Loáisiga and Clay Holmes combined to throw spotless seventh and eighth innings. Cabrera stepped to the plate with a chance to reach 3,000 hits, but Holmes said “not tonight” and struck him out on three pitches. Aroldis Chapman closed out the ninth to secure the Yankees’ 5-3 victory.
New York goes for the sweep tomorrow night with Jordan Montgomery set to face Michael Pineda. First pitch is scheduled for 1:10 pm EDT. so be sure to join us in the game thread.