Detroit 3, New York 1 (box)
The Tigers got just enough offense and held off a late push to secure the opening game of their four-game series in the Bronx last night. Ryan Raburn provided the winning margin (again) with his seventh home run of the year, a two-run blast in the second inning. Miguel Cabrera added a solo shot in the ninth, which also proved to be important.
Max Scherzer worked six innings, allowing just two hits and no runs. He walked a pair and struck out six. Yankees starter Javier Vazquez labored through four innings, taking 106 pitches to get there, but was able to limit the damage to just two runs.
After Phil Coke and Ryan Perry combined to work 1.2 innings, allowing three hits along the way, Jim Leyland turned to his closer to get the final four outs. This is where the game almost slipped away.
In an effort that was no only reminiscent of his 60-pitch outing versus Boston two weeks ago, but also reminiscent of a Fernando Rodney outing, Jose Valverde had difficulty finding the strike zone. It took him 15 pitches to record the final out in the eighth. In the ninth, things got worse.
He walked the first batter of the inning on four pitches, then got Jorge Posada to ground into a force out. Curtis Granderson then lined a single to right, part of a three hit day for the former Tiger. Valverde fell behind 3-0 on each of the next two batters, eventually walking both of them on full counts, forcing in the first Yankee run.
With Derek Jeter coming to the plate and the tying run on second, it certainly felt like the Yankees were about to once again pull the rug out from underneath the Tigers and find a way to win this game. The Tigers bullpen had Enrique Gonzalez and Daniel Schlereth both ready to go, but Leyland decided to live or die with a reliever who had no idea where the ball was going.
Jeter fouled away a couple of pitches after Valverde missed with his initial offering. Then Jeter hit a chopper to short. Jhonny Peralta made a good feed to Carlos Guillen, but Brett Gardner was all over his. Guillen stood tall and completed the throw to first, just barely in time to nip Jeter at the bag and secure a wild win for the Tigers.
The Tigers win was their third straight, all of them coming on the road. Going back to last week, they’ve now won four of their last five. Now let’s get to the fallout.
Perry worked in his second straight game, which doesn’t happen a lot. Chances are very good that he is unavailable for tonight’s contest. Coke worked in his third straight game, so you can bet he won’t be pitching tonight. Valverde did get the save, as hollow as it feels, but it took him 38 pitches (16 of them were strikes), so you get the feeling that he won’t be working tonight, either.
On top of all that, Guillen was visibly shaken after turning the game-ending double play. Gardner’s late, hard slide was a clean play, but the type of play that gets second basemen hurt all the time. Factor in Guillen’s general fragility and you knew it was a recipe for a disabled list visit. Fortunately, that doesn’t appear to be necessary. John Lowe reported in the Free Press that Guillen was feeling much better after icing his bruised knee and that he would be re-evaluated today by Head Trainer Kevin Rand.