Another day, another loss that can only, at this point, be described as tough. The Yankees are back to four games under .500 at 65-69 after an extra-innings loss to the Tigers on a Thursday afternoon getaway day matinee. Yankees hitters had no answer for Matt Manning, unable to get anything going outside of a single late swing that netted them all three of their runs, and they threw away the game in the 10th. New York got the series win last night, but the club was unable to secure the sweep.
Offensive action was at a minimum throughout the early going. Manning moved through the Yankees lineup once with ease, walking DJ LeMahieu to open the game before retiring 10 straight, striking out four of them. It didn’t matter at first, though, as Clarke Schmidt went punch for punch with him on the Yankees’ behalf, allowing three baserunners in three innings but keeping the Tigers off the board. Sadly, at first is the operating part of that sentence, with the rest of the game following an all-too-familiar script — albeit with a slight wrinkle.
As has been the case for so much of the year, the Yankees’ offense was anemic on a temperate afternoon in Detroit, giving Manning one of his smoothest outings of the season, on the whole. And in perfectly on-brand 2023 Yankees fashion, they managed to run themselves out of some of the few opportunities they did give themselves. Anthony Volpe broke Manning’s string of 10 consecutive hitters set down with a double into left field, but it was erased when Volpe got a little bit too adventurous with his lead off of second base.
And now Volpe gets caught dancing off second pic.twitter.com/viI2N0wghj— Talkin' Yanks (@TalkinYanks) August 31, 2023
Manning held the Yankees to two hits through six innings throwing almost exclusively four-seamers and sliders, generating an almost even number of called strikes and whiffs on both. Schmidt had trouble finding the zone for much of the day, and his lack of control came back to bite him in his half of the fifth, missing on a fastball that was intended for the outer half of the plate and wound up clearing the wall (just barely) off the bat of Zack Short for the game’s first run.
Schmidt followed up the homer by walking Carson Kelly, and was made to pay when a could-be double play grounder wasn’t turned by Gleyber Torres (more on him later), which allowed Riley Greene to single Kelly home with a fisted fly ball to the outfield.
A mound visit to allow Keynan Middleton to get loose was then to no avail, as Kerry Carpenter immediately singled in another run, and Schmidt’s day was done. In 4.2 innings, he allowed six hits and three walks, though he fanned seven.
Middleton was able to put out the fire and record the third out of the inning, but the damage was done. Manning put another baserunner on in the sixth inning, but it was again erased, this time by a double-play ball courtesy of questionable baserunning, as Oswaldo Cabrera seemed to slow down heading into second base on the back end of a 1-3-6 from LeMahieu. The Tigers didn’t push Manning’s luck, replacing him in the seventh with Jason Foley. As was the theme of the afternoon, they didn’t touch him, either, going down 1-2-3 without much of a fight.
The Tigers threatened add more damage to Tommy Kahnle’s tough month-and-a-half since opening his season with a bang, putting a runner in scoring position in their half of the seventh, but the righty worked out of trouble to keep it a three-run game. And a three-run game it stayed until Alex Lange entered the game in the ninth. Lange has been outstanding for most of the season, but the Yankees offense picked a simply perfect time to spring to life.
Cabrera lit the spark with a beautiful bunt single down the third base line, and with one out, LeMahieu blooped a single to center field to bring the tying run to the plate. Unfortunately, Torres couldn’t make the most of the opportunity, escaping a game-ending double play by a fraction of a second. Fortunately, the rookie Volpe did make the most of it, ensuring that he couldn’t get picked off this time on base.
Now that’s a way to introduce yourself to the 20/20 club! Volpe became the first Yankees rookie to ever join that impressive fraternity and the 15th overall.
Clay Holmes locked down the Tigers in his half of the ninth, and to extras we went! All for naught, though: the Yankees instantly reverted to the same 2023 team we all know and have grown to viscerally dislike, putting up virtually no fight in their half of the 10th with a free runner on second base. In even more on-brand 2023 Yankees fashion, the game ended on a defensive miscue. The task fell to Jonathan Loáisiga to keep the game alive, and with the game in his hands, ol’ Gleyber simply threw it away.
The Yankees have an offday tomorrow before flying to Houston to play their part in what’s easily the most electric playoff race of the year, the three-way rumble between them, Texas, and scorching-hot Seattle for the AL West crown. If there’s anything left to play for this season, it could very well be spoiling the Astros’ playoff hopes. Carlos Rodón will face longtime Yankees nemesis Justin Verlander at 8:10pm ET. Here’s to our own hopes that Jasson Domínguez and Austin Wells greet them with a bang.