Curtis Granderson's foul popup landed out of play and the next thing he knew, his manager and hitting coach had been ejected.
Yankees skipper Joe Girardi and batting coach Kevin Long were tossed in the seventh inning Saturday night, and New York went on to lose 4-3 to Detroit on Omir Santos' sacrifice fly in the ninth. Miguel Cabrera hit two prodigious solo homers for the Tigers.
"I didn't even know anything had happened until I heard Joe running out of the dugout," Granderson said. "It's not us. It is across the board. There clearly have been some missed calls lately, but there is a human factor that is part of the game."
Detroit overcame a blown save by Jose Valverde (3-1) and an awful night of defense from Santos, a third-string catcher pressed into duty because of injuries. Santos made two errors and allowed five stolen bases — but his fly to right off Boone Logan with the bases loaded in the ninth was deep enough to score Brennan Boesch.
David Phelps (1-2) took the loss.
With the Tigers ahead 2-1 in the seventh, Granderson hit a foul pop toward the New York dugout that went out of play. Plate umpire Bob Davidson then signaled an ejection, and Girardi came onto the field to argue. In an animated argument near home plate, Girardi threw his hat at the ground, and by the time it was over, he and Long had both been tossed.
The dispute began with a previous pitch.
"You saw the pitch, and you can assume we didn't like the call. This is an emotional game, and things got said," Girardi said. "There was the foul pop that got out of play near our dugout, and Davidson turned toward our dugout and looked like at K-Long instead of going back to the plate. He said not to say anything else, Kevin did, and he got thrown out. That's what made me so hot.
"Umpires don't have wins and losses. All that matters to us is that they do their jobs. A big part of that job is keeping the peace, and I don't think he did that."
The Yankees tied it at 2 on Nick Swisher's RBI single in the eighth, but Cabrera's homer onto a camera platform gave Detroit a 3-2 lead.
Valverde pitched about as poorly as possible without giving up a hit in the ninth. He hit Russell Martin with a pitch to start the inning, and pinch-runner Dewayne Wise stole second. Derek Jeter appeared to be trying to bunt, but Valverde walked him. After Granderson's flyout, the Yankees pulled off a double steal, and Valverde plunked Alex Rodriguez to load the bases.
Robinson Cano popped out, but Valverde walked Mark Teixeira on a 3-2 pitch to tie it. Santos later kept the rally alive by missing a popup in foul territory for an error, but Raul Ibanez grounded out, leaving the game tied at 3.
Boesch hit a one-out single in the ninth off Phelps and went to third on a single by Jhonny Peralta. Logan came in, and Ramon Santiago pinch-hit for left fielder Don Kelly. The Yankees ended up intentionally walking Santiago to load the bases for Santos.
Santiago was Detroit's only healthy position player on the bench because of injuries to catchers Alex Avila and Gerald Laird and outfielder Andy Dirks. If the game had gone to extra innings, the Tigers were ready to send second baseman Danny Worth to the outfield for the first time in his career.
But Santos made all that moot with his winning fly.
"I was trying to forget all of that stuff that happened in the game," Santos said. "I got a feeling that if I got an at-bat, I was going to be the hero."
Cabrera hit solo homers in the fourth and eighth, each well beyond the wall in center. The second homer — his 11th of the year — traveled an estimated 433 feet, but that only measured how far the ball went before disappearing into the camera structure, not where it would have landed.
It's 420 feet to the wall in straightaway center — and Granderson, a former Tiger, is skeptical even of that.
"I've played a lot of games here, and I don't even believe it is 420 out there," Granderson said. "It is 420 at other places, and it never seems as big as it does here. I'm sure this is the biggest park out there."
Cabrera opened the scoring with a 436-foot shot in the fourth. The ball sailed beyond Granderson in center and hit the ivy-covered barrier above two levels of bushes beyond the outfield wall — a bit to the right of where his second homer ended up.
Kelly, playing in left with Dirks out, reached above the wall to rob Teixeira of what was nearly an opposite-field home run in the fourth. In the fifth, Kelly singled and scored on Quintin Berry's single to make it 2-0.
Rick Porcello allowed a run and six hits in six innings for the Tigers.
New York starter Hiroki Kuroda yielded two runs and seven hits in seven innings.
NOTES: There was a 39-minute rain delay in the bottom of the first. ... Girardi said "everything went well" with RHP David Robertson's throwing session. Robertson has a strained oblique. Girardi also said RHP Joba Chamberlain threw a "half-mound" — he dislocated his ankle in March. ... New York RHP David Aardsma, who had elbow ligament replacement surgery last July, threw 20 pitches during his first batting practice session at the Yankees' complex in Tampa, Fla. ... Detroit ace Justin Verlander (5-3) takes the mound Saturday against Phil Hughes (4-5).