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Baserunning blunders cost Yanks in loss

Alex Avila #13 of the Detroit Tigers holds

Alex Avila #13 of the Detroit Tigers holds up the ball after blocking the plate and getting a out on a sliding Andruw Jones #18 of the New York Yankees at Comerica Park. (May 3, 2011) Credit: Getty Images

DETROIT -- The cliche generally goes that coaches and managers understand physical mistakes are a part of any game, but what they can't stand are mental errors.

The Yankees made their share Tuesday night in a 4-2 loss to the Tigers in front of 23,551 at Comerica Park.

"You don't like them, that's the bottom line,'' Joe Girardi said. "You know that during the course of the season, from time to time, but you still don't like them to make mental errors. You can't afford to do that. You understand it's going to happen but you don't like it."

The Yankees had three baserunners thrown out Monday night and were outright hideous on the basepaths Tuesday night, particularly in the sixth inning when Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada made blunders.

Girardi sounded more forgiving of Cano's mistake.

The inning started well enough as Alex Rodriguez singled to left. He was erased when Cano grounded into a fielder's choice. With Jorge Posada at the plate, Brad Penny's curveball scooted away, though not far, from catcher Alex Avila. Cano ventured almost halfway to second and Avila fired to shortstop Jhonny Peralta. Cano easily was tagged out in a rundown.

"I should have kept running,'' Cano said. "[Avila] might have hesitated or thrown the ball away.''

Said Girardi: "I think his read was good but you have to keep going. That's the bottom line."

Posada, who has been swinging the bat better -- he had two hits Monday and two more Tuesday night -- completed his at-bat with a single to right. But he, too, fell asleep on the bases. With Andruw Jones up, Penny stepped off the rubber and caught Posada heading for second. The play was scored as a caught stealing, 1-4.

"You hate to make foolish outs,'' Girardi said.

Speaking again of the Posada play, Girardi said later: "You can't go there. Bottom line is you can't go there. I talked to him about it and we'll leave it at that.''

Posada said there was "no need to talk about it'' with the manager, but didn't dispute he erred.

"I messed up,'' Posada said. "They weren't really paying attention to me, I thought I could get into scoring position for Andruw. You don't want to make mistakes. It just happened today.''

CC Sabathia had what for him was a typical Comerica Park outing. The lefthander came in 7-4 in his career here but with a 4.24 ERA. His previous start in this ballpark was among his worst here when he allowed six runs and nine hits in six innings in a 6-0 Yankees loss.

Tuesday night, he allowed four runs -- two in the first and two in the fifth -- and a season-high 10 hits in seven innings as the Tigers ended their losing streak at seven.

"It just wasn't there," said Sabathia, who felt good in the bullpen but struggled with fastball command. "I felt my delivery wasn't horrible but it was just one of those nights.''

Sabathia (2-2) received little offensive support as the Yankees made Penny throw a lot of pitches early, but couldn't capitalize. Penny, who came in 1-3 with a 6.11 ERA, allowed one run -- unearned -- and six hits in six innings. The Yankees had eight hits, leaving six on and going 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position.

"We had our opportunities and we just weren't able to get the hit,'' Girardi said. "That was the difference.''

That and a tough night on the bases.

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