Detroit — For a minute there Saturday, Tigers right-hander Spencer Turnbull looked vulnerable. He was spraying pitches, missing spots, seemingly searching his rhythm and release point.
That lasted for roughly five hitters. Then he went back to being mostly unhittable.
Turnbull allowed a run and three singles through 5.2 innings and the Tigers beat the Yankees for the second day in a row, 6-1 at Comerica Park.
Turnbull came into the game with a career-low walk rate of 5.4% and breezed through the first inning on 13 pitches. But things got out of whack in the second. He walked three Yankee hitters around a single by Gary Sanchez.
A couple of years ago, Turnbull most likely wouldn’t have regained any equilibrium after such an inning. But this is a much more mature and assured pitcher. He limited the damage in the second to a run, inducing a 6-4-3 double-play from Miguel Andujar and then proceeded to dispatch 10 straight hitters through the fifth.
The Yankees nicked him for two singles in the sixth and with two outs he gave way to right-hander Jose Cisnero. Pitching in his third game in four days, Cisnero struck out Gary Sanchez to end the sixth inning.
The Tigers bullpen continued its stingy ways. After allowing only an unearned run in five innings Friday, and posting the third lowest ERA in baseball since May 16, Tigers relievers covered the final 3.1 innings Saturday.
After Cisnero, Daniel Norris worked a scoreless seventh with two strikeouts. Kyle Funkhouser followed with a scoreless eighth, punching out both DJ LaMahieu and Aaron Judge.
Joe Jimenez bolted it down in the ninth, pitching around a one-out walk.
Willi Castro, who has lost his spot in the everyday lineup and came in hitting just .182 in May with 23 strikeouts, provided an early spark, both with his bat and glove.
With two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the second inning, he hit a hard ground ball up the middle. Yankees second baseman Rougned Odor made a superb play to get to the ball behind second base and appeared to have a force-out opportunity at second.
Instead he threw to first, errantly, allowing two runs to score, giving the Tigers a 2-1 lead.
Then in the top of the third, Castro stole a hit from LeMahieu. Leading off the inning, LeMahieu hit a shot up the middle. It had an exit velocity of 108 mph off the bat, but Castro took two quick steps to his right, dove and snared the ground ball.
From the seat of his pants, the threw LeMahieu out at first.
Castro started a three-run uprising in the fifth inning with a leadoff double off Yankees starter Deivi Garcia. He scored on a double by Jeimer Candelario, who extended his on-base streak to a big-league active best 25 games.
After Miguel Cabrera’s sacrifice fly brought Candelario home, Jonathan Schoop lofted a solo home run into the Tigers’ bullpen in left.
In the fifth, catcher Eric Haase notched his first big-league triple and scored on Niko Goodrum’s sacrifice fly.