The biggest talk at the trade deadline last week was when the Rays traded their ace starter to the Tigers. That ace started against the Yankees tonight in a highly anticipated (read: over-hyped) match-up in the Bronx. Look, the Yankees have faced Price (the new Tigers’ starter) a lot because he played on the Rays, also known as one of their division rivals, also known as a frequent opponent during the season. In fact, Price was the pitcher who gave up Jeter’s 3000th hit 3 years ago. Price is tightly interwoven into the Yankees’ storyline, and the move to the AL Central has to give the Yankees a bit of a sigh of relief as they don’t have to face him that often anymore.
So, the Tigers are in the Bronx tonight for their 2nd of a 4-game mid-week series. And I won’t deny that Price did an excellent job, as usual, against the Yankees with some notable exceptions. He threw 112 pitches into the 9th inning (8.2 innings in his stats), gave up all 8 Yankee hits, all 3 Yankee runs, and no walks, striking out 10 Yankee batters. But Price is a strikeout pitcher, and like a lot of strikeout pitchers, 2 of those runs were home runs to Brian McCann in the 2nd and Martin Prado (his 1st in pinstripes) in the 5th. The other run was in the 3rd, after Ryan doubled to lead off the inning, Jacoby Ellsbury’s double scored Ryan.
On the other side of the field, Hiroki Kuroda got the start for the Yankees. His 91 pitches took him through 7 innings, giving up 6 hits, 3 runs, and no walks, striking out 5 Tigers. The Tigers struck in the 1st, singles putting runners on the corners, when a simple sacrifice fly scored the Tigers’ first run. A solo home run in the 6th brought the score up 3-2, and a 2-out RBI single in the 7th tied up the game 3-3.
And there it sat. Betances threw the 8th and into the 9th, but after accidentally hitting a batter, he was replaced by Kelley who closed out the 9th. A former Yankee now with the Tigers threw against the Yankees in the 9th and 10th innings and got a rousing chorus of boos when he entered the game (he didn’t leave on good terms with the fans) and when he accidentally hit Jeter (just bruised really). Huff got the first 2 outs of the 10th, with Rogers grabbing that last one and the first two of the 11th. New acquisition Rich Hill (see below on trade notes) pitched to one batter putting him on base with a hit-by-pitch (the 3rd hit batter of the game), so it was Matt Daley to close out the 11th and pitched through the 12th.
And it was the 12th that was a problem — a 1-out solo home run pushed the Tigers up 4-3 over the Yankees. The Yankees couldn’t seem to push another run across the plate at the bottom of the 12th, so the Tigers took this game.
But I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a couple of truly outstanding defensive plays the Yankees made tonight — Derek Jeter‘s leaping grab in the 4th, Brendan Ryan‘s successful bobble out in the 5th, Chase Headley‘s nasty grab in the 10th, and Brett Gardner‘s sliding grab in the 12th.
And in those roster moves and trade notes I mentioned previously… the Nationals claimed pitcher Matt Thornton off waiver-claims, so the Yankees signed another lefty pitcher Rich Hill, who has a history with the Cubs, 5 AL teams, and various minor league clubs since his 2005 MLB debut.
Hints of more roster moves and trades to come are everywhere because the Yankees, unlike some other teams, are still in quite the race for October. Of course, it doesn’t help to lose games like today, but it’s still pretty encouraging (at least to me) that they held out so long against what is considered one of the better teams in the AL. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still bummed that they lost (I hate losing), but the idea that it was rather a close call should be enough of an “almost” to challenge the Yankees into an extra competitive boost for the next couple of games. (And I’m sure the teams in the AL Central are hoping the Yankees steal a couple of games from the Tigers too.)