Published August 08, 2012
DETROIT – Curtis Granderson got the pitch he wanted. He just couldn't do anything with it.
Facing closer Jose Valverde with runners at second and third, Granderson popped up for the final out Tuesday night and the New York Yankees lost to the Detroit Tigers 6-5.
"It was there, but I popped it up, so I obviously wasn't even close to it," Granderson said. "It's just one loss, and I know it doesn't matter if we lose that way or 10-0, but it was frustrating."
Miguel Cabrera homered for the third straight game and drove in three runs before Detroit held on for its sixth straight victory.
The Yankees scored twice off Valverde in the ninth inning and had two runners in scoring position when the rally fell short. The AL East leaders have lost 12 of 18.
Granderson is batting .170 in New York's last 11 games, and doesn't know why.
"I'm doing the same things at the plate that I've always done," he said. "I'm just not putting balls into play that I should be hitting. That's what makes it tough."
Cabrera, meanwhile, is making a run at the AL MVP award, hitting .333 since the All-Star break with 11 homers and 24 RBIs in 24 games. Andy Dirks added three hits and two RBIs for the Tigers, who have won 16 of 17 at home for the first time since 1919.
"He's one of the best hitters in the game, and you never want to let him beat you," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said about Cabrera. "The problem is that if you pitch around him, the next guy (Prince Fielder) is pretty good, too. That's the best 3-4 combination in the game."
Detroit moved within a half-game of first-place Chicago in the AL Central.
"We're doing exactly what we want to do," catcher Alex Avila said. "We can taste the playoffs, and we want them."
Rick Porcello (9-6) picked up the win, allowing three runs and eight hits in 6 2-3 innings. He struck out three and didn't walk a batter.
Porcello is 3-0 with a 2.03 ERA in his last four home starts against the Yankees. Three relievers finished, with Valverde staggering to his 22nd save in 26 tries.
Ichiro Suzuki hit an RBI single with two outs in the ninth and Russell Martin followed with a run-scoring double to left. Suzuki was held at third, however, and Granderson popped out to first against his former team.
"He didn't have a chance," Girardi said when asked about the decision to hold Suzuki. "The left fielder would have had to throw the ball into the crowd for him to score."
Phil Hughes (11-9) struggled after dominating the Tigers the previous time he faced them. After tossing a four-hitter on June 3, he lasted just 4 1-3 innings this time, giving up four runs and eight hits.
"I felt great for three innings, but then something went away," Hughes said. "I couldn't locate my fastball, and I left a couple curveballs over the plate."
The game was scoreless until Eric Chavez's two-run homer for the Yankees in the fourth. Chavez had three hits against Justin Verlander on Monday.
Cabrera made it 2-1 with a line drive into the left-field stands in the bottom of the inning. The homer was his 19th at Comerica Park, tying the stadium record he set in 2008 and matched in 2009.
"I've never seen anything like him," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "I've been in this game for 50 years, and I've never seen opposite-field power like Miguel Cabrera. Never. Anybody."
Jhonny Peralta made it 2-all with a two-out double off Hughes.
Brennan Boesch didn't drive in a run, but he singled on a nine-pitch at-bat in the second inning and again on a 12-pitch at-bat in the fourth — something that Hughes acknowledged fatigued him.
"I was pretty tired myself — that was like doing a full round of batting practice in one at-bat," Boesch said. "I think every hitter knows that if you have lengthy at-bats, it helps the team, because a pitcher's whole job is to have quick innings. He was making good pitches, but I kept fouling them off."
Leyland agreed, especially when it came to Boesch's fourth-inning hit that set up Peralta's tying double.
"I think we won the game with that at-bat," the manager said. "I don't know how many pitches it was, but it got Hughes' pitch count from nothing to something, and that was the key to the game."
Cabrera chased Hughes with a two-run double in the fifth, and Dirks' run-scoring double gave the Tigers a three-run lead in the next inning.
Suzuki's RBI double pulled the Yankees to 5-3, but Dirks restored the three-run cushion with an RBI single in the eighth.
NOTES: Derek Jeter's fourth-inning single was his first hit against Porcello in 14 career at-bats. ... The game was delayed briefly after Chavez hit reliever Cody Eppley in the head with a throw from third. Eppley was in the process of catching a toss from the plate umpire and didn't see Chavez's throw. He was checked by the Yankees' training staff, but laughed it off. "You always worry when a guy gets hit in the head, but he was fine," Girardi said. "I've seen umpires hit guys before, but never a third baseman."