Tigers 6, Yankees 1: Opportunistic hitting and strong relief lead to a series victory

Bless You Boys

The Tigers pitching staff was strong again in this one. Despite some shakiness from Spencer Turnbull, he and the bullpen handled the New York Yankees with little trouble, and the offense took advantage of their opportunities to take this one 6-1 on a cool, sunny spring day in Detroit.

Spencer Turnbull cruised through his first inning despite a few errant pitches, but as he is wont to do, lost his rhythm and release point throughout a long second frame. A walk, a single, and another walk set him up for trouble, but fortunately he was able to limit the damage. Miguel Andujar grounded into a double play that scored a run, and while Turnbull turned right around and walked Clint Frazier to burn a lot of pitches in the inning, Brett Gardner grounded out to end the frame.

As they’ve done throughout the month of May, the Tigers showed some fight right here. Jonathan Schoop was hit by Deivi Garcia to lead off the bottom of the second, and Nomar Mazara flared a single to put the pressure on the Yankees. Garcia got Eric Haase and Niko Goodrum on routine fly balls, but Akil Baddoo battled through a six-pitch at-bat to walk and load the bases. Willi Castro’s routine grounder up the middle was a tougher play than it looked because of the Yankees’ shift, and Rougned Odor threw wide of first as both Schoop and Mazara raced home to give the Tigers the lead.

At this point, Turnbull flipped the switch again and got dialed back in. He sent nine straight Yankees down in order as the afternoon shadows crept between home plate and the mound, making it ever tougher to square up his fastball. The Tigers got him another run in the fourth when Eric Haase tripled to deep left centerfield. Niko Goodrum cracked a 410 footer to straightaway center for the sacrifice fly, and the Tigers led 3-1. Both Mazara and Baddoo were rung up on strike three calls with both pitches clearly well out of the zone in the inning, so Garcia was lucky it wasn’t worse.

He wouldn’t be so lucky in the fifth. Willi Castro, having perhaps his best game of the season on both sides of the ball—he made a nice diving stop and threw from his backside to get LeMahieu in the third inning—lashed a double to right field to lead off the inning. Grossman popped out, but Candelario fought through a tough AB to smoke a 3-2 heater into the right field corner, scoring Castro and knocking Garcia from the game.

Reliever Albert Abreu came on and promptly wild pitched the Candyman to third where he scored on a sacrifice fly to center field by Cabrera. Jonathan Schoop followed by mashing a hanging slider on the inner third deep to left for a solo shot to make it 6-1 Tigers. The shot was Schoop’s fifth of the season. Right fielder Miguel Andujar’s diving stop on a sinking line drive off the bat of Nomar Mazara finally rescued the Yankees and ended the inning.

Turnbull allowed a leadoff single to D.J. LeMahieu in the sixth before striking out Odor, and getting Aaron Judge on a line out snared by Candelario at third. Gleyber Torres knocked a single through the right side of the infield, and the Yankees had a two-out threat as Turnbull hit 100 pitches on the day. AJ Hinch had seen enough from his starter, and Jose Cisnero came on to deal with Gary Sanchez. He did so, rearing back to polish him off with a 96 mph heater to end the threat.

It was a very Spencer Turnbull sort of line today: 5.2 IP, ER, 3 H, 3 BB, 6 SO.

Daniel Norris took over the seventh and promptly hit Mike Ford with a 3-2 changeup. However, Norris continues to pitch off his changeup rather than the fastball, and he settled right back in beautifully. A one pitch pop-out of Andjuar that Schoop made a nice catch on in foul territory, followed by swinging strikeouts of Clint Frazier and Brett Gardner, who nearly fell over trying to hit a slider down for strike three, put the Yankees away with some authority. Norris only used seven fastballs in the inning, topping out at 94 mph as the Fetterization process continues.

Abreu worked a quick bottom of the seventh, retiring Castro, Grossman, and Candy on six pitches. Kyle Funkhouser came on to handle the top of the eighth. He put away LeMahieu whiffing over a slider, got a quick ground out from Odor to Schoop at first, and then powered the fastball up to 97 mph in dealing with Aaron Judge. He threw five fastballs to Judge, finishing him by painting the edge for a called strike three. If Funkhouser is developing into a good reliever, I’m starting a fund for Chris Fetter’s statue already.

Another interesting development has been the new glove tap timing mechanism and tighter arm path featured by Joe Jiménez. The former closer is still feeling for it sometimes, but the fastball and slider have been much more consistent since those changes. He allowed a walk to Gary Sanchez in the ninth, but otherwise had little trouble putting this one to bed in a low leverage situation. If Jiménez turns things around, we’re starting construction on said statue.

Just like that, the Tigers have a series win over the Yankees in the books, and they’ll look for the sweep with Tarik Skubal on the mound on Sunday at 1:10 p.m. EDT.

Notes and Tweets

Jeimer Candelario has now reached base in 25 straight games.

The Tigers bullpen has tossed 8.1 IP of scoreless ball in the first two games of the series.

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