Detroit — If you are looking for factors that swung the game in the Yankees favor Tuesday — the obvious suspects were pitcher Nathan Eovaldi, who was to the Tigers' offense what the Club is to auto theft, and some shoddy relief pitching in the seventh inning.
But there was another, more subtle factor that helped the Yankees score a 5-2 victory on a cold, wet and windy night at Comerica Park.
Strike throwing, or, in the Tigers case, a general lack of it.
"We can't be going 1-0, 2-0 on every single hitter," manager Brad Ausmus said. "It was kind of a theme tonight. Quite often we got behind hitters and major league hitters become better major league hitters when they are ahead in the count."
Tigers starter Kyle Lobstein (1-1) struggled to throw strikes, especially in the first two innings, but the only damage against him came on a hanging cutter that Mark Teixeira swatted into the right-field corner to score the Yankees first run.
"It was similar to my first outing," Lobstein said. "Falling behind hitters is what got me in trouble…All in all I settled in nicely, but I would like to throw more strikes and try to get deeper into the game."
He left trailing 1-0 in the sixth. Ian Krol replaced him and promptly fell behind Chris Young 3-1. Young blasted a home run on center-cut fastball. Two batters later, Krol fell behind 2-0 to Stephen Drew. Same outcome — fastball, home run.
The rest of the inning got uglier. Tom Gorzelanny gave up a walk, a hit and a run. Al Alburquerque couldn't seem to grip the ball. He walked two and threw a wild pitch that brought in the fourth run.
"Sloppy, that's how I would describe that seventh inning," Ausmus said. "Across the board it was rough for us and the Yankees took advantage."
The four runs were all Eovaldi needed, though things did get a little dicey for the Yankees bullpen in the ninth.
"He is a tough pitcher," said Alex Avila. "He throws mid to upper 90s with splitters and breaking balls. He threw the ball pretty well."
Eovaldi, who won for the first time as a Yankee, displayed a velocity range of 96 to 75 mph. And, unlike the Tigers pitchers, he was in attack mode. He threw 94 pitches, 63 for strikes. He threw just 15 balls and scattered six hits through six innings.
"He threw hard and his ball was running," Ausmus said. "He did a nice job of getting double -play balls, too. We actually outhit the Yankees (10-8) but we couldn't get anything going because of the double plays."
They hit into four of them Monday against CC Sabathia. They hit into three more Tuesday.
"The double plays have been really helpful keeping them from scoring a ton of runs, because we know how explosive they are," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "And we've got some really timely ones."
The Tigers didn't blame it on the weather.
"The (conditions) are not ideal; it's not great baseball weather," Avila said. "But we've played in this before, numerous times. It's how the weather is in April. It's how the weather is in October.
"You just have to figure out a way."
The Tigers made one last push in the ninth. After Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez struck out against right-hander Chris Martin, J.D. Martinez (three hits) singled and scored on a double by Yoenis Cespedes, making it 5-2.
At that point, Girardi brought in closer and former Tiger Andrew Miller. Miller walked Nick Castellanos and pinch-hitter Rajai Davis to load the bases.
But Miller stuck out Jose Iglesias to end the game.
Chris McCosky on Twitter @cmccosky