DETROIT — Their ace came small, again, and they couldn’t hit, again, and again, the Yankees won.
They overcame another clunker from Gerrit Cole and an inability to produce with runners in scoring position thanks to a few errors from the Tigers and yet another brilliant performance from their bullpen in a 4-2 victory in icy park from Comerica.
After Cole was knocked out in the second inning, five relievers combined to pitch 7 ¹/₃ shutout innings, led by Clarke Schmidt’s 3 ¹/₃ out.
The Yankees scored in the first inning through an unfortunate defense, as Detroit starter Tyler Alexander dropped a Josh Donaldson pop-up, and Aaron Hicks and Anthony Rizzo scored.
They added a run in the top of the second before Cole imploded late in the inning, walking four of his five on the night.
Alexander lasted just one inning, the southpaw struggling with his command. He needed 42 pitches to get through the frame, with an opening single from Hicks, and headed to Rizzo and DJ LeMahieu who charged the bases with two outs.
Donaldson then popped up, but receiver Tucker Barnhart couldn’t field him and the ball went out of Alexander’s glove for a two-run error.
The Yankees added another run in the second, again thanks to more pitching mishaps in Detroit.
Isiah Kiner-Falefa walked, stole second and moved up to third on wild pitch that right-hander Rony Garcia bounced off the mound.
Garcia suffered a cracked fingernail that forced him out of the game, and Detroit’s third pitcher of the night, Will Vest, surrendered a sacrifice steal to Hicks to make it 3-0.
Cole then imploded late in the second, running four batters – including Willi Castro – to force a run. After the march to Castro, Robbie Grossman hit a sacrifice fly to make it 3-2. Cole then stalked Austin Meadows to reload the bases and end his terrible night.
Schmidt came in and out Jonathan Schoop to end the inning. Schmidt continued to preserve the Yankees’ slender lead until Wandy Peralta came in to start the bottom of the sixth and pitched 1 ²/₃ shutout innings.
Meanwhile, the Yankees offense was calm again, going 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position.
After getting the two-run giveaway in the first and the run in the third, the Yankees couldn’t generate anything against most Detroit relievers.
They managed to get two and two out in the fourth, but Aaron Judge struck out. And with two over and two again in the fifth, Joey Gallo hit – his third puff of the night as his incompetence continues at home plate.
Clay Holmes replaced Peralta with an out in the seventh, walked Schoop, gave up a line-up single to Jeimer Candelario and with Miguel Cabrera at the plate, threw a wild pitch to send them to second and third.
Holmes fell behind Cabrera, 3-0, but grounded Cabrera in third down 3-1 and Donaldson threw Schoop to the plate to keep the Yankees in front. Holmes followed by stoking Torkelson to end the round.
Miguel Castro threw a scoreless eighth for the Yankees before LeMahieu passed with a slap right bloop to hit Hicks, for the Yankees’ first hit with a runner in scoring position.
Aroldis Chapman came in for the ninth and collected the stoppage.