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In Spite of Leyland, Tigers Top Yankees


New York 4, Detroit 5 (box)

The New York Yankees got a first-hand look at a few players they got rid of over the winter, but it was an unknown rookie who made last night his coming out party.

Brennan Boesch, in the Tigers line-up replacing the still-injured Carlos Guillen, drove in three of the Tigers five runs and helped the Tigers to top the Yankees 5-4 on Monday, the opening game of a four game set.

Boesch connected with a Sergio Mitre sinker and lined a base hit to right field with two outs in the first, putting the Tigers ahead 2-0.

Facing a southpaw for just the second time in his career, Boesch made things happen again with two outs in the seventh, lining an RBI triple off Boone Logan to the right center field wall, and extending the Tigers lead to 5-2. It was his first career hit versus a left handed pitcher.

Win or lose, Tigers manager Jim Leyland did everything he could to mis-manage the Tigers bullpen in the eighth.

With the Tigers leading by three, Joel Zumaya was left in the game to start the inning. He had entered in the sixth. Prevailing thought was he would face Alex Rodriguez, then be lifted as the Yankees had Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada due up after that. Zumaya allowed a soft liner from Rodriguez that Adam Everett should have caught but didn’t and the lead-off man was aboard.

With lefty Phil Coke ready in the bullpen, he had been throwing alongside Jose Valverde when the inning began, Leyland stuck with Zumaya. Cano lined a sharp single to right and Leyland stayed put, leaving Zoom out there to face Posada, a much better hitter from the left side, instead of turning him around.

I’ll ask at this point what I was screaming at the TV last night; Why the hell was Coke warming up if they weren’t going to use him to face Cano and Posada?

I’ll continue this rant after the jump, click continue reading at the bottom right of this post.


Posada walked to load the bases, Zumaya was clearly struggling against the last two batters. With still no one out, Marcus Thames stepped in to face Zumaya. He topped a chopper to deep short, but there was no play and all hands were safe as Rodriguez scored. Sacks still loaded, now 5-3, still no outs and finally Leyland goes out and gets Zumaya, a full three batters too late.

So Coke is in to face Brett Gardner, Ryan Perry begins throwing in the ‘pen, Valverde is still ready to go. Coke gets Gardner to ground out, but another run scores and it’s 5-4 with runners on the corners. Coke then gets Randy Winn to pop up and with Derek Jeter coming to the plate, Leyland calls for Perry to face him.

Wait, what?

Again, if Valverde wasn’t coming in here, why was he throwing? Jeter is a Hall of Famer, Perry is still wet behind the ears. You just knew how this was going to end.

And by all rights, Jeter should have at least tied the score and probably put the Yankees ahead when he lined a ball down the right field line. But Magglio Ordonez got to the ball, a play he would not have made last season, and made a sliding catch to save the game. And to take Leyland off the hook.

Cheers for

  • Brennan Boesch– Take your time, Carlos. Boesch continues to rake in the big leagues and the fact that Leyland let him face a left hander tells me he has gained more confidence in the youngster. A LH power bat to hit behind Cabrera is just what the Tigers have needed for three years.
  • Jose Valverde– Up by one and facing Nick Swisher, Mark Teixeira, and ARod, Valverde struck out the side without any of those three even fouling off a pitch. It was perhaps the most dominant performance by a closer I have seen in a long, long time. The Tigers have never, never, had a closer capable of doing what Valverde did last night.

Jeers for

  • Jim Leyland– I know the bullpen was short since they had to pitch all nine innings last night, but Leyland’s mis-management of the eighth inning should have cost the Tigers this game. If coke was warming up to face the lefties, he should have used there instead of four batters later. If Valverde wasn’t coming in to face Jeter with the game on the line, why was he warming up in the eighth? The fact that the Tigers won should not excuse this behavior.

What’s on tap?

The Tigers and Yankees square off in game two tonight. New York will send embattled right hander Javier Vazquez (1-3, 9.78) to the mound for the first time in 10 days. It doesn’t figure to be easy for Vazquez and the Yankees to avoid their first three-game losing streak on the year tonight. Vazquez is just 2-5 (6.09 ERA) in seven career starts at Comerica Park.

The Tigers will send their own struggling righty to the hill to oppose him in Rick Porcello (2-3, 7.50). Porcello allowed six runs in just 3.2 innings versus New York last April, his shortest outing of his career.

While Porcello has struggled, he is 2-0 at home this year and the Tigers are now 10-3 at the CoPa, the second-best home record in the league behind the Yankees, who are 10-2 at home.