DETROIT – Omir Santos stroked a sacrifice fly to right with one out in the ninth inning Saturday night to give the Detroit Tigers a see-saw 4-3 victory over the New York Yankees.
Santos, Detroit’s only available catcher, was 1-for-5 with a sacrifice bunt prior to his game-winning at-bat.
Brennan Boesch grounded a curveball for a single to right with one out in the ninth and never hesitated in going to third when slumping Jhonny Peralta lined a single to extreme right field.
New York changed from David Phelps, a right-hander, to lefty Boone Logan when it was announced Jim Leyland was going to use his only available bench player, switch-hitting Ramon Santiago, to hit for lefty swinging Don Kelly. Santiago was intentionally walked in favor of the weak-hitting Omir Santos.
Both of Detroit’s other catchers, Alex Avila and Gerald Laird, are nursing tight hamstrings and were not available.
Even though he wound up with the win, raising his record to 3-1, teams have discovered this season Jose Valverde might be the easiest closer in the league to run on.
The Yankees reinforced that Saturday night with three stolen bases in the ninth inning against Valverde, an inning in which the Detroit Tigers’ closer hit two batters.
Valverde entered trying to protect a 3-2 lead and hit Russell Martin, with pinch-runner Dewayne Wise stealing second to put the tying run in position to score on a base hit. Derek Jeter tried to sacrifice and ended up walking with Curtis Granderson flying out to short center.
Wise and Jeter worked a double steal to put the tying and winning runs in scoring position. Valverede went high and inside with a 2-2 pitch to Alex Rodriguez but hit him in the left elbow to load the bases.
Robinson Cano popped out to short and Mark Teixeira took three straight balls before the Yankees’ first baseman walked on a 3-2 pitch to force in the tying run.
Raul Ibanez grounded out to first to end the inning – after being given a second chance when catcher Omir Santos dropped his foul popup near the New York on-deck circle.
Miguel Cabrera, who hit a home run in the fourth inning but blundered on the bases in the sixth, smashed a second monster home run to dead center field to briefly put Detroit ahead, 3-2, in the eighth.
Cabrera’s 10th home run of the season broke a scoreless tie and traveled an estimated 430 feet. His 11th home run went even farther to break a 2-2 tie in the eighth. It was charted at 433 feet, three feet less than his first.
Nick Swisher tied it, 2-2, with a line single to right on a 1-2 pitch in the eighth that scored Teixeira from second base. Teixeira had walked on a 3-2 offering from Octavio Dotel and then advanced to second when Ibanez hit a potential double play ball back to the mound that the pitcher bobbled momentarily before getting the batter at first.
Swisher stole second and went to third when Santos’ throw went into center field for an error. Dotel fanned Andruw Jones to end the inning.
Hitting coach Kevin Long and then manager Joe Girardi were ejected in the top of the seventh with runners on second and third, one out and Curtis Granderson at the plate.
The first pitch to Granderson by reliever Joaquin Benoit was a changeup that broke sharply down and Long apparently began chirping about the call. After a foul that went into the stands, home plate umpire Bob Davidson thumbed Long and Girardi came out to jaw, threw his cap on the ground and engaged the umpires who had come in to the plate.
Girardi eventually picked up his cap and left the field, after which Granderson fanned on a pitch that broke down and away. Benoit got Alex Rodriguez to pop a 3-2 pitch to second to end the threat.
The Yankees cut the Tigers’ lead in half in the sixth when Cano walked on a 3-2 pitch with one out in the sixth and scooted to third on a single to center by Teixeira, who alertly took second when Quintin Berry overthrew the cutoff man. Cano scored on a groundout to short by Raul Ibanez but Nick Swisher struck out on an inside 2-2 curve to end the inning.
Detroit grabbed a 2-0 lead in the fifth when Don Kelly singled to left, was sacrificed to second and scored on a sharp single to right by Quintin Berry.
Kelly had robbed Teixeira of a home run at the beginning of the fourth, drifting back to the left field fence to leap and grab the ball as it was on its way into the Tigers’ bullpen. He was able to hang on to the ball as his arm hit the top of the fence so he could bring it back into the field of play.
Cabrera might have run Detroit out of a run in the sixth, though, when he tried to advance to third on a ball that bounced away from catcher Martin. Cabrera, who had doubled to lead off, was thrown out by a couple of steps. One out later, Delmon Young singled down the line to deep third.
Some Detroit fans were probably thinking the weather robbed them of a run.
Berry had walked to begin the bottom of the first, stole second (his sixth steal in 11 games), then was sacrificed to third when some gusty rain blew in over Comerica Park.
Play was halted for 39 minutes and when it resumed, Cabrera fouled out to first on the first pitch Hiroki Kuroda threw. Prince Fielder then ripped a vicious liner to first to end the inning.
New York had a first-and-third threat in the top of the first on consecutive two-out singles by Rodriguez and Cano but Teixeira grounded out to short to nip that scoring chance.
NOTES: Cuban-born OF Jorge Soler, 20, has been declared a free agent by Major League Baseball and must be signed before July 2 or be subject to new baseball signing guidelines limiting teams to $2.9 million in total international signing expenditures. The Yankees are expected to be among those interested in Soler. Several Cubans currently training in the Dominican Republic are now free agents. … The Yankees are 3-0 this season against starters making their Major League debut after defeating lefty Casey Crosby of Detroit, 9-4, Friday night. … Baseball’s annual draft takes place Monday-Wednesday with the Yankees having the 30th pick in the first round and will get three of the first 94 players chosen. Contrast this with Detroit, which lost its first-round selection for the signing of 1B Prince Fielder and choses 91st overall.
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