Left-hander Drew Smyly takes another crack at his first major league win this afternoon when the Detroit Tigers continue a three-game series with the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium.
Despite being held out of the win column, Smyly has been terrific in his three starts, yielding only two earned runs in 16 innings of work. He's also the first Tigers pitcher since at least 1918 to hold his opponents to one run or less in each of his first three major league starts.
"He's got really good command on all his pitches right now," catcher Alex Avila said, "and he's just throwing a lot of strikes, mixing it up well. He threw fantastic. He's really improved a lot from spring training and from the first start. He was impressive then, and he seems like he's getting better every start."
On Sunday against Texas Smyly again did not get a decision, despite giving up just a run and five hits in six innings. His seven strikeouts, though, marked the most from a Tigers rookie left-hander since Andrew Miller did the same in 2007.
"It'll come," Smyly said. "That's just how baseball goes. We'll start hitting a lot more. Our lineup is just as good as any lineup in the league. It's just a matter of time."
New York, meanwhile, will counter with veteran right-hander Freddy Garcia, who may be pitching to keep his spot in the rotation.
Garcia couldn't get out of the second inning in Boston last Saturday, as he allowed five runs and seven hits in just 1 2/3 frames. Amazingly, he escaped without a decision when his team overcame a nine-run deficit to score 15 unanswered runs and post a win.
"Every pitch I was throwing, they hit," said Garcia, who's 0-1 with a 9.75 earned run average this season. "I threw a couple of good pitches in the first inning, and they hit it."
Garcia has dominated the Tigers over the course of his career, posting an 18-8 mark to go along with a 3.88 ERA in 32 starts.
The Yanks kicked off a six-game homestand on Friday in thrilling fashion, as they rallied for a 7-6 win.
With the score tied 6-6 heading into the bottom of the ninth inning, Derek Jeter, who went 0-for-4 to snap a 15-game hitting streak, drew a one-out walk. On the final pitch of Curtis Granderson's at-bat, also a walk, Jeter advanced all the way to third on Brayan Villarreal's (0-1) pitch in the dirt that ricocheted sharply off of Avila's shin pad.
Jeter then came home on a passed ball during Alex Rodriguez's plate appearance to give New York its fifth win in its last seven games.
Rodriguez finished with three hits, including a solo homer, two RBI and a pair of runs scored, while Mariano Rivera (1-1) picked up the win with a 1-2-3 ninth.
"It was nice to start the homestand with a good win, especially being behind twice in that game and being able to come back against a top-notch pitcher like [Justin] Verlander," remarked Rodriguez. "It's definitely a good sign."
Miguel Cabrera drove in a run for the Tigers, making him the sixth youngest player to reach 1,000 RBI in MLB history. Only Mel Ott, Jimmie Foxx, Lou Gehrig, Rodriguez and Ken Griffey Jr. have reached the milestone sooner.
"He's a tremendous young player, there's no question about that," said Detroit manager Jim Leyland about Cabrera. "He'll get another thousand before his career's over. He's that kind of player."
Mired in a 3-for-24 slump, Austin Jackson registered four hits, drove in two runs and scored twice for Detroit, which defeated New York in five games in last year's ALDS.
The Tigers were 4-3 against the Yankees last season.