Tigers rally late, improve to 11-2
The Tigers are one tough team to beat these days.
They didn't get many hits Monday. They didn't hit any home runs. But they did just enough, played typically great defense and beat the Yankees, 2-1, at Comerica Park. Detroit now is 11-2 on the season.
Joba Chamberlain got the hold for the Tigers, getting Jacoby Ellsbury to bounce into an inning-ending double play with runners on the corner in the eighth.
Then Joakim Soria continued to put a tight grip on the closer's role, going through Brett Gardner, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira 1-2-3 in the ninth inning.
Gardner grounded out to second, Rodriguez flew out to center field to finish 0-for-4 on the evening, and Teixeira, with the crowd on its feet, flew out to center field to end it.
That's the fifth save of the season for Soria, who has racked up the last three saves with 1-2-3 innings.
Yankees lefty CC Sabathia went eight innings, and took the loss. He is 0-3.
Alfredo Simon took the win for the Tigers, and is 3-0.
The Tigers and Yankees return to action Tuesday night, at 7:08. Nathan Eovaldi goes for the Yankees, against Kyle Lobstein.
Tigers take the lead in the seventh
The Tigers have had lots of good swings tonight, but little to show for them. The Yankees have been great on defense, and several of the hard balls the Tigers have hit have turned into double plays.
But they finally broke through in the seventh inning, with two two-out runs.
J.D. Martinez tied the game at 1 when he hit a shot off the glove of Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius, scoring Rajai Davis.
Davis led things off with a single, then took second on Ian Kinsler's flyball to deep left. Miguel Cabrera grounded out for the second out; he has seen four pitches total in his three at-bats.
The Yankees intentionally walked Victor Martinez. Then up stepped J.D. Martinez, who had been 0-for-3 before the rocket single.
Victor Martinez only got to second on that ball, and there was a thought the Tigers would pinch-run for him, being the go-ahead run. But Brad Ausmus stuck with them.
Then Yoenis Cespedes hit a base hit up the middle, and Victor Martinez was barely to third by the time Yankees center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury had the ball. Even though Ellsbury has a weak arm, he would have had a shot at Victor Martinez at the plate.
But then J.D. Martinez did something bright -- he rounded second to take third, enticing Ellsbury to throw to third. He got in a rundown, and before the Yankees could tag him, Victor Martinez scored to make it 2-1.
Smart move by J.D. Martinez, not so much by Ellsbury.
Tigers flashing the leather right back
A half-inning after the Yankees made two outstanding plays on defense, the Tigers made two of their own.
The highlight of the night, no surprise, came from Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias in the top of the sixth inning. On a Brett Gardner grounder to the hole, Iglesias ranged to his right, backhanded the ball and unleashed an off-balance, strong strike to Miguel Cabrera.
Gardner, who is super speedy, was out by a foot.
It was simply amazing. All Iglesias' momentum was taking him away from first base, yet he still got plenty on the throw. He's worth the price of admission, and the crowd of Tigers fans here was very appreciative, giving him a rousing ovation.
In the same at-bat, Tigers catcher James McCann threw a laser to second to catch Jacoby Ellsbury, another speedy Yankee, stealing. The throw was perfect, low and on the right side of the bag. Anything less and Ellsbury is safe.
With all this great defense, it's 1-0 Yankees heading to the bottom of the sixth inning.
Yankees flashing some leather
The Tigers already have demoralized several opponents this season by playing some outstanding defense.
Tonight, the Yankees are giving them a taste of their own medicine.
Victor Martinez led off the Tigers' half of the fifth inning with a shot toward the gap in right-center, where it was caught by center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury -- who went a long, long way and dived to snag it.
It was the second time Martinez has been robbed tonight. His first time up, left fielder Brett Gardner made an outstanding play on a ball he hit to left-center.
At least Martinez is taking some good, pain-free swings.
Gardner made another great play in the fifth inning, racing in to snag a smashed, sinking J.D. Martinez line drive. The Tigers have hit the ball harder than the Yankees tonight, but because of New York's defense, Detroit still trails 1-0 through five.
Simon is really impressing
Alfredo Simon is making his first start in the home white Tigers uniform, after starting the season with two starts on the road.
And the Tigers fans are getting a treat.
Simon is mixing his pitches to perfection, and the splitter has been outstanding. Even the one that Mark Teixeira hit out in the second inning was a good pitch, and Teixeira's home run was wind-aided to right field.
Simon stuck with the splitter the next time Teixeira was up, and he got the switch-hitting slugger to strike out swinging in the fourth inning.
In all, Simon already has five strikeouts through four innings.
But the Tigers trail 1-0 through four innings.
Ian Kinsler has two hits for the Tigers, but both times he was erased on a 5-4-3 double play off the bat of Miguel Cabrera.
V-Mart robbed of extra bases
Gotta admit. I was surprised to see Victor Martinez back in the Tigers lineup, after he limped around the bases all day Sunday.
But the Tigers are smarter than us, and they feel Martinez is healthy enough to play. He sure looked like it on his at-bat leading off the bottom of the second inning.
On a pitch from lefty CC Sabathia, Martinez, batting right-handed, hit a rocket to the gap deep in left-center field -- but Brett Gardner made a fine running play to snag it.
It was a rope by Martinez, who didn't grimace after the swing, like he did several times Sunday.
Had the ball been hit a little higher, it might have carried out, as the wind was blowing out hard to left.
Sabathia got the next two hitters easily, J.D. Martinez on a swinging strikeout and Yoenis Cespedes on a flyout to center.
Yankees jump out to early 1-0 lead
There's a whole lot of wind today, and it's blowing out.
So I set my pregame prediction for home runs at five, at least. You can cross one off.
Mark Teixeira led off the top of the second inning with a bomb to right field, which isn't even where the wind's blowing out. The wind is blowing strongly out to left field.
It wasn't a good pitch from Tigers starter Alfredo Simon, who had Teixeira down 0-2.
Simon got the next batter, Carlos Beltran, to strike out. Then Brian McCann doubled to left, the ball eluding a diving Yoenis Cespedes. But McCann was stranded there when Chase Headley and Stephen Drew both struck out swinging.
Simon has some great movement on his pitches early in this one. He just needs to cut down on the 0-2 cookies.
By the way, this obviously is the first time in major-league history that both starting catchers have the last name, "McCann." James McCann is starting again for the Tigers, with lefty CC Sabathia on the mound for the Yankees.
Welcome back to Detroit, A-Rod
The boos rained down on A-Rod. And right then, the rain rained down on the fans.
Alex Rodriguez made his return to Detroit on Monday, and drew the ire of the small crowd when he was introduced for his first at-bat in the opening inning.
The boos turned to cheers five pitches later when Rodriguez was called out on strikes to end the inning.
Tigers starter Alfredo Simon got the Yankees 1-2-3 in the opening inning.
The game started just one minute later, and a light rain already has started to fall.
Tarp is off the field; we'll see some baseball
George Kell used to like to say, "There's not a cloud in the sky." Yeah, he wouldn't be saying that tonight at Comerica Park.
It's complete cloud cover over the ballpark, and there's an intense wind blowing out to left field -- which should lead to some interesting plays on defense, and potentially a handful of home runs.
The tarp is off the field, and it looks like this Yankees-Tigers series opener will start on time. There's a chance of rain just about all night, but not a great chance -- so both teams likely feel they can get this game in.
The Yankees come in 6-6, the Tigers 10-2.
They'll play night games today, Tuesday and Wednesday, and an afternoon game for the series finale Thursday.
Victor Martinez in the lineup
Victor Martinez is hobbled but is back in the lineup Monday as the Tigers open a four-game series against the Yankees at Comerica Park. First pitch is 7:08 p.m.
Martinez is the designated hitter in his usual No. 4 spot in Brad Ausmus' lineup.
Alfredo Simon (2-0, 2.03 ERA), who has given up just three earned runs over 13.1 innings this season, starts for Detroit. New York's starter is left-hander CC Sabathia (0-2, 5.68).
1. Rajai Davis, CF
2. Ian Kinsler, 2B
3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
4. Victor Martinez, DH
5. J.D. Martinez, RF
6. Yoenis Cespedes, LF
7. Nick Castellanos, 3B
8. James McCann, C
9. Jose Iglesias, SS
Alfredo Simon, RHP
1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
2. Brett Gardner, LF
3. Alex Rodriguez, DH
4. Mark Teixeira, 1B
5. Carlos Beltran, RF
6. Brian McCann, C
7. Chase Headley, 3B
8. Stephen Drew, 2B
9. Didi Gregorius, SS
CC Sabathia, LHP