August 6, 2014 at 1:00 am

Yankees 5, Tigers 1

Tigers offense can't back Justin Verlander in loss to Yankees

New York — Day games after night games come quickly.

But day games after wasted night games can’t come quickly enough.

And Wednesday night’s 5-1 loss to the Yankees, folks — if you are interested in textbook examples — was indeed a wasted game for the Tigers.

Complete with a squandered one-out chance to tie the game or take the lead in the eighth inning after leaving runners at first and third with two outs in the seventh.

Plus a squandered, but excellent start from Justin Verlander — as the Tigers’ offense vanished.

“Tonight was as bad as we’ve been offensively really all year,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “The first seven innings we didn’t make many adjustments.”

The Tigers had five hits, four of them singles. Andrew Romine’s double was their only extra-base hit — as for the 10th time in the last 12 games the Tigers failed to score more than four runs.

Where does the offense go? If the Tigers knew, they’d go find it.

When will it be back? It’s baseball — so possibly right away.

If not right away, people will worry.

“First of all, we’re not swinging the bats well and, two, we’re chasing pitches out of the zone,” Ausmus said. “(Yankees starter Chris) Capuano is the type of pitcher that starts pitches in the zone, specifically with change-ups to right-hand hitters, and it fades down and away out of the zone.”

There’s this on the plus side to say about the game, however: Because of the way Verlander was throwing — he retired the first 11 batters he faced — it looked like one the Tigers would eventually win instead of lose.

But that went by the wayside when Blaine Hardy struggled in relief in the eighth, allowing the last three runs.

“We were trailing,” said Ausmus, “so I didn’t want to bring in (Joakim) Soria, Joba (Chamberlain) or Joe (Nathan). You don’t burn those guys out when you’re trailing.

“Part of it was Hardy needing to pitch and part was that, as I’ve said before, he’s a guy I think can get both righties and lefties out.

“So against their switch-hitters, I still felt pretty good. It’s not like he got hit around the yard.”

Of Verlander, though, Ausmus said, “I think that’s the best I’ve seen his curveball, with its sharpest break, all year.”

“I would agree,” Verlander said. “It was definitely tighter.”

If there was anything that bothered Verlander about the game it was Brian McCann’s home run in the seventh (that gave the Yankees a 2-1 lead) “on a pitch I called.”

“I didn’t quite execute it, but it was close to where I wanted. But I’m not going to dwell on two homers (Chase Headley’s being the other).

“Headley’s was gone anywhere. McCann’s probably not in a lot of places.”

Not taking advantage of the chance-on-a-platter in the top of the eighth was a killer, though — second baseman Stephen Drew gift-wrapping an opportunity for the Tigers with a double error.

But J.D. Martinez struck out after getting ahead with a 3-0 count.

And Nick Castellanos — on a full count after it, too, had been 3-0 — flied out to right to end the inning.

The Yankees then scored three runs off Hardy in the bottom of the eighth, complete with a reviewed play at the plate that went against the Tigers.

Until Headley’s home run to right tied in the fifth for the Yankees, the Tigers were in front with the help of Derek Jeter’s first-inning error — his ninth of the season and the 252nd of his career.

But who’s keeping track?

Especially when Jeter is close to reaching another offensive milestone.

While there are some discrepancies about how many career hits Honus Wagner actually had, Jeter’s sixth-inning single put him within one hit at 3,429 of tying Wagner for sixth on the all-time list.

Will he get it Thursday? Will the Tigers’ offense return?

That, and more, to come.

tom.gage@detroitnews.com
twitter.com/Tom_Gage

Justin Verlander allowed two runs on five hits in seven innings Wednesday against the Yankees. / Rich Schultz / Getty Images
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