Tigers show fight in finale: ‘We are never out of it’

Detroit Tigers

NEW YORK — The Tigers were no match for the Yankees during the first two contests of the three-game weekend series at Yankee Stadium. Detroit was shut out twice, by a combined score of 16-0. But Sunday was a different story, as the Tigers put up a valiant effort, though they ultimately fell, 5-4, in 10 innings.

The Tigers were up, 4-3, entering the bottom of the eighth inning, but sloppy defense ended up costing them. Right-hander Michael Fulmer started off the frame by hitting Anthony Rizzo with a pitch. Rizzo then stole second base and advanced to third on a fielding error by second baseman Jonathan Schoop; he wound up scoring on a fielder’s choice by Gleyber Torres.

Left-hander Gregory Soto, who was dominant in the ninth, was back on the mound in the 10th, when he allowed a walk-off sacrifice fly to Josh Donaldson that finished off the Yankees’ sweep of the series.

After the game, Tigers manager A.J. Hinch was realistic about who his team was facing this weekend. The Yankees are the best team in baseball with a 39-15 record.

“They outplayed us in the game. They out-executed us and they are a winning team,” Hinch said. “At the end of the game, it gets even more magnified when you miss some opportunities.”

The Tigers never gave up throughout the contest, even as the Yankees kept finding a way back. Take the top of the eighth inning: The Tigers were down, 3-2, when they rallied off Yanks right-hander Miguel Castro. With Willi Castro on second base, Miguel Cabrera singled up the middle to tie the score at 3. The 39-year-old ended up going 3-for-3 and raised his batting average to .301.

“Miggy is doing great. He is in a good place. He is competitive,” Hinch said. “He doesn’t try to do too much. A lot of hitters around the league should take notice: He plays the game. He moves the ball forward. He can hit with two strikes. He takes whatever they give him. He never really concedes even when he swings and misses. He doesn’t waiver. It’s why he is still playing at this age.”

The Tigers then took the lead when Kody Clemens, who was pinch-running for Cabrera, scored the go-ahead run — his first career run — on a single by Javier Báez.

“We are never out of it, but obviously at the end of the day, we lost. We are bummed about it,” said first baseman Spencer Torkelson. “We can take some positive things from this, like coming back late against good arms and just staying in the fight against a really good ball team.”

The loss overshadowed a productive outing from right-hander Rony García , who cruised through the first four innings before finding himself in some tough luck in the fifth.

Yankees shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa reached base with a one-out single. After Jose Trevino struck out, it looked like Kiner-Falefa was out at second base on a steal attempt to end the threat. But the Yanks challenged the play, and the replay review led the call to be overturned. Kiner-Falefa was awarded a stolen base, which gave new life to Joey Gallo, who then hit a two-run homer to tie the score at 2.

“The main thing was, I was attacking the hitters from the beginning, and I was locating very well with my pitches,” García said through interpreter Carlos Guillen.

García has spent most of his career in the bullpen, but he has enjoyed a taste of starting over his last three outings.

“One of the things that helped me a lot is that I received experience from the bullpen,” García said. “But I’m a starter, and I feel very comfortable as a starter, combining all of the experience from being a reliever and all the things I have as a starter.”

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