DETROIT — The more Spencer Turnbull pitches, the more his no-hitter from last week looks like a stepping stone in his development. It’s not for his ability to throw no-hit stuff in two outings since, but his ability to succeed when his arsenal of pitches has been far from that quality.
A year ago, maybe even a month ago, Turnbull would’ve been set up for disaster with the three-walk inning he endured Saturday. He had the bases loaded with nobody out in the second against a Yankees team that had roughed him up in similar circumstances four weeks ago.
To escape that jam with one run was big. To make that his only run of the afternoon in a 6-1 win over the Bronx Bombers was a relative feat. The victory clinched the Tigers’ first series victory over the Yankees at Comerica Park since 2014.
Turnbull, who won three games all season in 2019, has won three consecutive decisions for the first time in his career. He came within an out of his fourth consecutive quality start.
After retiring the dangerous top third of the Yankees’ order in his opening inning, Turnbull quickly worked his way into trouble in the second with a four-pitch walk of Gleyber Torres, a Gary Sánchez single and a full-count walk of Mike Ford. Turnbull threw four strikes in 15 pitches, including a first-pitch ball to Miguel Andújar.
Turnbull regrouped with a nasty slider for swing and a miss, then came back with the same pitch for a double-play grounder that gave up a run but opened some bases. A five-pitch walk of Clint Frazier put Turnbull back in trouble, but Turnbull attacked Brett Gardner with back-to-back fastballs for an 0-2 count before fanning him on a changeup off the plate.
That started Turnbull on a roll of 10 consecutive outs that looked nothing like his previous wildness. The stretch included five 0-2 counts, four strikeouts and one ball hit out of the infield. Meanwhile, the Tigers clawed back in front with two runs in the second on a Willi Castro two-out infield single that second baseman Rougned Odor threw away for a run-scoring error.
Eric Haase tripled and scored in the fourth off Yankees starter Deivi García before Jonathan Schoop’s fifth home run of the season punctuated a three-run fifth inning to pull away.
Turnbull finished with 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball, three walks and six strikeouts. He drew 13 swings and misses, seven off his fastball, and eight called strikes.