The New York Yankees kicked off the Michigan leg of the Derek Jeter farewell tour hot, but the Detroit Tigers were the ones doing all the impressing. Rick Porcello was strong for eight innings and Detroit's offense kept clicking in a 5-2 win.
Jeter, who came to bat after a lengthy standing ovation, did single in the first inning to applause, but essentially, that was all he could do Tuesday night. Detroit struck first on a bases-loaded walk to Rajai Davis, but left the bags full after an Ian Kinsler groundout. Detroit added another in the third after a Miguel Cabrera double, when J.D. Martinez single him home for the 2-0 advantage.
Rick Porcello, on the other hand, was in control through the first four innings. Wielding a massive array of pitches, Porcello got most of his early outs via the ground ball. When the Yankees threatened, he confidently pitched around trouble in bot the third and fourth innings. His only mistake came in the fifth when Jacoby Ellsbury took him deep to cut Detroit's lead in half.
Detroit fought back, though, adding a pair of runs in the sixth thanks to a single by Nick Castellanos and a groundout by Alex Avila to extend their lead to 4-1. Further support came in the seventh from Torii Hunter, who collected his 70th RBI of the season.
Ellsbury clubbed another solo shot for his fifth career multi-homer game, but as he had done all night, Porcello got out of the jam and ended further trouble with a ground ball and some fine defense from Cabrera. He left to a standing ovation, and plenty of hugs and handshakes in the dugout.
Joe Nathan pitched a clean ninth inning amidst numerous "let's go Joe" chants, dusting the Yankees in order for his 28th save of the year.
Top Tiger: J.D. Martinez. It was a big night for the outfielder, who went 3-4 with two runs scored and a clutch RBI. "He's been swinging the bat pretty well since the end of the last home stand," Ausmus said "It kinda carried through for the majority of the road trip and obviously tonight as well." Best for Martinez was the fact that he didn't give an at-bat away. All featured a quality approach, and helped drive a Tiger victory.
Bungling Bengal: None. Big win for the Tigers to follow up Sunday's impressive effort and cool off the hot Yankees, who had been swinging their bats well. From that perspective, there's nothing to complain about.
The Turning Point: Detroit adds insurance in the sixth. The Tigers had just had their lead cut in half with a home run, but a quick explosion helped calm nerves of a letdown. Castellanos plated a run with a clutch single, and Avila got the job done with a ground ball. It's the little things that help teams shake out of funks, and better innings start with answering the opposition's rallies with runs, snatching back the momentum. From that point forward, the Yankees were staggered, and Detroit had the inside track toward helping a strong Porcello nab his 15th victory of the year.
Play Of The Game: Ian Kinsler makes a diving stab in the seventh. With Detroit ahead and Porcello remaining in control, Kinsler made a fantastic play, diving and stabbing a hot shot from Ichiro Suzuki. It was another highlight reel play from Kinsler, who's had his fair share this season. "Ian's been a horse at second base," Ausmus said. "His defense is much better than I anticipated, he's fully concentrated on every play, he takes a lot of pride in it." That was proven true with another fantastic play in the field that saved a pitcher.
Stat Of The Game: 14, the number of ground ball outs that Rick Porcello collected. It was another excellent night for Porcello, who was in command of his sinker, which is the entire key to his game according to his manager. "From the get-go, his sinker was down which is a key for him," Ausmus said. Porcello also had his way with left handed batters, which was another key according to Ausmus. "He's really come a long way with getting left handed hitters out, which helps with this lineup," the manager said.
Quote To Note: "If he needs a day, we'll give him a day." —Brad Ausmus. Regarding the health of hobbled slugger Miguel Cabrera, Ausmus said he'll continue to play things by ear and mix in a few appearances at designated hitter with perhaps a few extended days off. Ausmus admitted he's not a doctor, but said he would try to be prudent with the health of his first baseman.
What's Next: The Yankees and Tigers will continue to battle through their three game set, with Detroit looking to win the series on Wednesday night. Shane Greene (3-1) will do battle with David Price (12-9). The game begins at 7:08 p.m.
Max DeMara is the editor of @tigers_101. Follow the site there on Twitter, or like it on Facebook to connect with him.
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