Yanks Poke the Eye of the Tigers

AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

It took just four batters for the Yankees to turn the agony of defeat into the thrill of victory.

After eight innings of putrid offense that included poor at-bats, nine strikeouts and two more inning killing double plays, Anthony Rizzo’s walk off RBI single in the ninth gave the Yankees a 2-1 win over the much improved Detroit Tigers at Yankee Stadium Friday night.

The Yankees appeared to be headed towards their fourth loss in the last five games and the sixth time they would’ve been shutout this season, but they managed to push across two runs to give the 37,386 fans on hand something to cheer about.

It’s one of those keep pushing while we have outs, while we have opportunities and we needed every last one,” said Giancarlo Stanton, who made a big contribution to the winning rally.

With having the 3-4-5 hitters (Aaron Judge, Alex Verdugo and Stanton) scheduled to come to bat in the ninth against Tigers closer Jason Foley (who already had nine saves in nine opportunities), the Yankees would usually feel good about their chances, but two of those hitters were struggling mightily, so Detroit had to feel good about their chances to win the game.

Judge, who was in the midst of a 0 for 14 skid and had been hitting under .200 for the season, singled to center to get the rally started. “Good job by Aaron [Judge] obviously setting the table for us and then just some really good at bats to take it from there,” Manager Aaron Boone said.

The clean up hitter, Verdugo, surprised everyone with a bunt base hit down the third base line to put two runners on. “Third baseman, kind of give him that or move off the bag, that’s open there some,” said Boone. “Perfect execution and just set us up to be able to win a game.”

You could make the argument that you’d rather have Verdugo swing the bat to potentially hit a ball into the right field seats, because the struggling Stanton, who had struck out in his previous three at bats and was 2 for 19, was on deck.

The Yankee DH came through this time with a line drive double down the right field line on a 97 MPH fastball from Foley, that scored Judge with the tying run and sent Verdugo to third with the winning run.

Rizzo was the next batter and he was someone whom the Yankees would prefer to have up in that spot because he wouldn’t try to do too much in a situation where a fly ball deep enough would win the game.

Rizzo connected on an 0-1 change up for a single to right center field past the drawn in infield to score Verdugo with the winning run that sent the fans into a frenzy and gave the Yankees a big win after scoring a total of six runs and dropping three of the previous four in Baltimore against the Orioles.

A.J. [Hinch] went out to talk to him [Foley] so trying to play the game where they’re just gonna try to get me to chase for a couple of pitches and eventually put me on for a double play or they’re gonna go right at me,” Rizzo said. “Usually in that situation, I get a little more patient. The bigger the situation, the more I try to slow it down, so as soon as he went right at me with the fastball, I thought he was going to be in attack mode so luckily it got through.”

The night wasn’t going well for the Yankees struggling offense and it didn’t feel like it would end well. “Winning like this when we’re not clicking is big down the road, I know it’s one game but every game matters,” said Rizzo.

Anthony Volpe led off the first with a single to right, but Juan Soto, who was the Yankees hottest hitter coming in, hit into a double play. Judge walked and stole second but was left stranded when Verdugo struck out looking against Tigers’ starter Reese Olson who would go on to toss five scoreless innings.

Marcus Stroman matched Olson with five scoreless innings of his own but he faltered in the sixth.

Riley Greene, who was three for four, led off with a single. After former Met Mark Canha struck out, Stroman walked the next three batters to force in a run and give the Tigers a 1-0 lead.

Ian Hamilton replaced Stroman and kept it a one run game by striking out Spencer Torkelson and getting Zack McKinstry to ground out to end the inning.

The Tigers threatened again in the 7th but Victor Gonzalez, who replaced Hamilton with two men on, walked Wenceel Perez but retired pinch-hitter Matt Vierling on a ground out to keep it a 1-0 game.

Alex Faedo pitched a scoreless sixth and walked Verdugo to lead off the 7th, but after Stanton struck out for a third time, lefthander Andrew Chafin was brought on and walked Rizzo before getting Glyber Torres to kill the rally by hitting into the Yankees’ 40th double play of the season.

Shelby Miller pitched a scoreless 8th and after Dennis Santana, who got the win, kept the Tigers off the board, the stage was set for the bottom of the ninth as the Yankees took a page from the Knicks and showed some resilience and grit to rally and pull out a thrilling victory.

I don’t like to get into ‘we needed this’ because I think we’re too strong in there and those guys are too focused and tough that you’re gonna have a bump in the road here and there and you’re gonna have a game that you should’ve won that you lost,” Boone said. “To be successful in this league, you’ve gotta be able to handle all that and continually move on and deal with success and failures along the way.”

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