Rarely does a plan work to perfection. But last night, the Yankees made it look easy against one of the best righthanders in the game.
They tagged Justin Verlander for three runs in the first two innings and CC Sabathia tossed another gem as the Yankees defeated the Tigers, 6-2, in front of 46,906 at the Stadium.
"He can get into long counts, and I think that's the way you have to try to get him," Joe Girardi said before the game of Verlander, who entered 4-2 with a 3.63 ERA against the Yankees. "He's got swing-and-miss stuff. To me, you've got to make this guy work. In the games that I've seen him give up runs, it seems like he usually gives them up early."
And that's just what happened last night.
The Yankees (73-46), who remain tied for first in the AL East with Tampa Bay, scored one run in their previous two games. But they managed to break through early against Verlander, who allowed three earned runs and five hits in five innings - his shortest outing since June 22 against the Mets. He walked five, struck out five and threw 114 pitches (66 for strikes).
Sabathia gave up a homer to Austin Jackson on the game's first pitch. But the Yankees ace kept the Tigers at bay, with his only other misstep coming on a a seventh-inning home run by Brandon Inge. He allowed two runs in seven innings, walked three and struck out nine.
Sabathia (16-5) leads the AL in wins and is 12-2 with a 2.45 ERA in 15 starts dating to June 3.
"I always say this, 'I feel like I should pitch,' every time I go out, and I just try to do whatever I can to help the team win, no matter what the situation," said the lefthander, who allowed one home run in his previous 13 starts. "Tonight, these guys hit the ball and played good defense, and we got the win.''
Brett Gardner led off the Yankees' first with a soft single to leftfield before Derek Jeter walked. After Mark Teixeira flew out to centerfield, Verlander walked Robinson Cano to load the bases for Nick Swisher.
The rightfielder, who was taken out in the sixth inning of Monday night's game with tightness in his right forearm, said he was dead set on playing, regardless of the pain.
Swisher, who came in 7-for-38 against Verlander (13-8), didn't show any signs of discomfort as he roped a line drive to left, scoring Gardner and Jeter for a 2-0 lead.
Swisher was hit on the left foot by Daniel Schlereth in the eighth, but said he was OK.
Curtis Granderson's hot hitting against his former club also continued. The centerfielder, who went 3-for-3 Monday night, hit a solo shot on a 92-mph fastball in the second. Cano's 22nd home run in the seventh gave the Yankees a 5-1 lead.
Granderson also bailed out Sabathia by making two spectacular catches in the first inning. The second one was a diving catch that robbed Johnny Damon of a potential extra-base hit.
Teixeira also made a nice play in the sixth, knocking down a hard liner off the bat of Damon. He lunged forward and flipped the ball in one motion to Sabathia, but Damon beat the 6-7 lefty to first base.