June 3, 2012
Yankees too quick for Tigers
By Richard L. Shook, The Sports Xchange
Justin Verlander did not look like a Cy Young/MVP Award winner Sunday, and the New York Yankees didn’t give him a chance to.
Detroit’s ace likes to ease into things these days, opening by spotting his 90-93 mph fastball and then ratcheting up the velocity as the game progresses.
But Derek Jeter was ready for that and jumped on the first fastball he saw, which happened to be in the low 90s, and with his trademark inside-out swing flew the ball into the seats in right to get the Yankees off to a 1-0 start as they cruised to a 5-1 victory behind a strong outing by Phil Hughes, who more closely resembled a defending Cy Young/MVP winner.
Hughes kept the Tigers from scoring except for a no-doubter of a home run off the bat of Prince Fielder leading off the fourth inning. Hughes walked three, gave up just three hits and struck out seven.
He ran his fastball up to 94-95 mph, and as soon as New York got comfortably ahead, he began mixing in more solid breaking balls, getting four of his six strikeouts from the fourth inning on.
The Yankees got a sacrifice fly from Mark Teixeira in the first to take advantage of Verlander’s early wildness (a pair of first-inning walks) and made it 3-0 when Alex Rodriguez hit an impressive home run with one out in the third.
Verlander couldn’t throw his curve or changeup for a strike very often and only on a couple of occasions did he pump his fastball into the mid-90s. It was his third straight defeat, something that hasn’t happened to him since September of 2008.
The Yankees added two runs in the fifth when Curtis Granderson doubled and scored on a triple by Robinson Cano, who was waved home by the umpires when Danny Worth’s relay from the outfield sailed past Verlander into the dugout for an error.
Verlander’s last three losses have been 2-1, 6-3 and now 5-1.
Hughes (5-5) completed the game with 123 pitches, 82 for strikes.
Outside of Fielder’s home run, the biggest excitement for the Comerica Park crowd came when a fan ran on the field with one out left in the game. He was cautiously surrounded, handcuffed and led away.
Jeter set the tone against Verlander right away when he took a first-pitch fastball the other way for his sixth home run of the season. It’s the third time this year Jeter has opened a game with a home run and the 27th time in his career.
Granderson was picky about what he swung at and followed the home run with a four-pitch walk. Rodriguez walked, both runners advanced on a passed ball and Teixeira’s sacrifice fly to center gave New York a 2-0 lead before Detroit even had a chance to bat.
Rodriguez shocked Verlander with a home run to deep left center off a 96 mph fastball. His ninth home run this season and second in three games against the Tigers caromed off the brick fence between the names of Hall of Famers OF/1B Hank Greenberg and 2B Charlie Gehringer.
Detroit got an “I knew it was gone when I hit it” home run from Fielder, who yanked the first pitch Hughes threw in the fourth inning for his ninth home run.
NOTES: RHP Joba Chamberlain (broken right ankle) threw a brief mound session with an ankle brace in Tampa recently, way ahead of expectations for his recovery. “I’ve always said I believe he’ll be back,” manager Joe Girardi said. ”Knowing Joba, I believe he’s going to be back for us this year. This 'validates~ that belief.” Still ahead are more serious sessions to see if his ankle can handle the stress. “Having to cover the base and when you land as a pitcher, when you push off,” Girardi said. ”Those are the hurdles he’s going to have to clear.” ... New York’s 4-3 loss to Detroit on Saturday dropped New York to 0-12 this season when the Yankees are without a home run. ... OF Brett Gardner (strained right elbow) took indoor batting practice for the second time and could be hitting outdoors early in the week. ... RHP David Robertson (strained left oblique) threw a bullpen Saturday for the first time since being disabled. No timetable for a return has been established.