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NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 11: Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees reacts after striking out in the fourth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Yankee Stadium on June 11, 2016 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Roughed up in the Bronx: New York Yankees vs Tigers series recap

The Yankees welcomed the Detroit Tigers to the Bronx for a weekend series fresh off of a four game sweep of the Angels where the bats really came to life.  The Yankees have moved back to .500 with those wins, but need continued momentum moving forward as they still trail the first place Orioles by 6.5 games.

Is it 2009?

The Yankees would send C.C. Sabathia to the mound in the series opener.  The big lefty is experiencing a throwback year as he has finally learned to use location and offspeed pitches to offset his diminished velocity.  After a few extended pitch battles that had his pitch count rising quickly in the first couple of innings, he would settle down and work his way out of trouble several times.

The biggest thing he did all night was stay out of trouble with Miguel Cabrera.  C.C. got him to fly out twice and ground into an inning ending double play in the fifth.  Not too shabby.  With his pitch count at 98 after six innings, you had to figure a pitching change was imminent.  But Joe Girardi trotted him back out for the seventh to face the bottom of the Tigers order and they were retired on ten pitches.  7 innings of shutout baseball while giving up 5 hits and walking 2 is something i’ll take every single day.  Sabathia’s ERA has dropped to 2.28 on the season, which is good enough for fourth in the American League.  I know it’s early, but there has to be conversation about Comeback Player of the Year soon.

The Yankee offense would get started right away against Mike Pelphrey.  Brian McCann would walk with the bases loaded to bring in the first run, and a Didi Gregorius fly ball that got over the head of Justin Upton would bring home two more.  McCann would be thrown out at home trying to score on the play to end the inning.  Carlos Beltran would drive in Brett Gardner with a single in the third to give the Yankees a 4-0 advantage and it seemed the offense was going to put up pretty solid numbers against Pelphrey.  But he would settle down to retire the last ten Yankees he would face and pitch two outs into the seventh.  No matter as C.C, Dellin Betances, and Anthony Swarzak would make the four runs stand up.  Swarzak has the chance to be a solid pickup and give a boost to the bullpen.  The former Twin and Indian could pitch his way into more than just a mop up role and may end up in more of a sixth and seventh inning role with the Yankees.

Kinsler and a couple of dingers

The Yankees would send Masahiro Tanaka to the hill on Saturday night in hopes of extending their recent run of success.  Although Tanaka would pitch better than the boxscore would show, two pitches basically did him in and prevented him from having an opportunity to win.  Nick Castellanos deposited an 0-2 fastball into the bullpen in the second inning to put the Tigers up  1-0.  The Yankees would get that run back in the third on a Refsnyder RBI single.

The second bad pitch of the night would be a first pitch fastball to Ian Kinsler in the fifth inning that he would jerk just inside the left field foul pole for a three-run homer.  He would still pitch one out into the seventh inning before turning things over to Kirby Yates.  He would give up a two-run double to Kinsler to give the Tigers second baseman five RBIs on the night.  Tanaka’s final line would be 6.1 innings, 6 hits, 5 runs, and 4 strikeouts.  Once again, not as bad as it looks, but it is what it is.  Yates has seen his numbers balloon similar to what Johnny Barbato‘s did earlier in the year.  He has now allowed seven runs in his last eight innings.  Maybe Swarzak gets a shot at these innings quicker than I thought.

Other than Refsnyder’s RBI, the Yankee offense did little else.  Six hits and very few real scoring opportunities against Justin Verlander.  He still can be pretty good.  The Yankees did load the bases in the ninth, but could push nothing across.  The team will go for the series win on Sunday, but the offense will have to contend with high flying rookie Michael Fulmer who has thrown 22.1 consecutive scoreless innings.

Beaten by the kid

Michael Pineda went to the mound in the series finale for the Yankees and while he did pitch solidly for his third consecutive game, he was outdone by the rookie Fulmer.  Fulmer continued his streak of scoreless innings with 6 more on Sunday and now has 28.1 consecutive innings without allowing a runs.

Pineda has made three straight starts of improved performance.  He would not allow the Tigers to get anything going until the fourth when they would string together several hits to score runs in back-to-back innings for the only two runs he would allow.  Pineda’s slider has been much improved in his last few starts, generating regular swing and misses.  He would strike out eight in this one, while giving up six hits and two runs.

The offense could get no momentum against the rookie hurler for the Tigers as he only allowed a pair of doubles in his six innings of work.  The Yankees did manage to score on a Chase Headley RBI single in the eighth off of Justin Wilson.  4 hits for the ballgame while going 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and leaving 8 on base will not get it done and is another case of the same old stuff from this lineup.  With the offense not giving the team a shot at a late lead, neither Andrew Miller nor Aroldis Chapman threw a single pitch in the series.

The Yankees dropped back to a game below .500 with the loss and with the top of the division not playing well this week, they could have made a small move with a series win.  Instead, they still find themselves 5.5 games behind the Orioles and Red Sox as they head on the road to face the Rockies in Colorado on Tuesday night.