Prince Fielder saw to it that the Tigers didn’t need a closer today.
Fielder hit a three-run homer off Boone Logan in the fifth to give the Tigers the lead and added a two-run blast for insurance in the seventh Friday as the Tigers beat the Yankees 8-3.
Fielder’s first homer came immediately after Yankees manager Joe Girardi made the call to pull starter Ivan Nova. With the Yankees up 3-2, Nova was one out away from being eligible for the win at the time. He had allowed the first two runners in the fifth to reach base, only to induce a double-play ball from Torii Hunter afterwards. However, he then hit Miguel Cabrera on the hand with a pitch, causing Girardi to make the change.
Logan had limited Fielder to one single in five at-bats lifetime before Fielder got a hold of a fastball today and lined it just over the wall in right.
Since the lead proved comfortable, the Tigers allowed Drew Smyly to pitch the final four innings for his first career save. Then again, given the way he was throwing, Smyly probably would have been the best choice in a 4-3 game, too. The left-hander retired all 12 batters he faced, striking out five of them.
Starter Doug Fister got the win after allowing three runs in five innings. Shaky with his command, as he often was in spring training, he walked two and hit a pair of batters. One of those batters, Eduardo Nunez, left the game with a badly bruised forearm.
The Yankees dropped to 1-3 with the loss, while the Tigers improved to 2-2. Kevin Youkilis homered for the Bombers.
The magic number to clinch a wild card spot is still 1, but the Mets have at least secured a wild card tie after defeating the Phillies 5-1 on Friday night.
Jay Bruce powered the offensive drive, going 3-for-4 with a pair of RBI singles and his 33rd home run of the season, ripped from an Alec Asher fastball in the seventh inning. On the mound, right-hander Robert Gsellman limited the Phillies to seven hits and one run over six frames, striking out seven batters in his eighth appearance of the year. Behind him, a cadre of Mets relievers turned out three scoreless innings to preserve the lead and anchor the Mets in the wild card standings.
The Cardinals aren’t out of the race quite yet, and can still force a tiebreaker with the Mets if they manage to win the remainder of their games this weekend and the Mets lose the rest of theirs. Any other scenario will ensure the Mets’ exclusive rights to a wild card spot next week. While a wild card clinch is unlikely to happen tonight, with St. Louis leading Pittsburgh 7-0 through 7.5 innings and just entering a rain delay, it remains a distinct possibility over these next two days.
In a season that boasts the likes of Max Scherzer (he of the 20-strikeout masterpiece) and Clayton Kershaw (he of nine separate games with at least 10 strikeouts), there hasn’t been anyone who’s done exactly what Carlos Rodon did this week.
During Friday’s series opener against the Twins, Rodon retired seven consecutive batters via strikeout. His streak — and the beginnings of a perfect game, if you can call it that after just 2 ⅓ frames — ended on a Logan Schafer double that found right field well before Rodon managed to put up two strikes. With seven consecutive strikeouts, Rodon became the first American League pitcher to strike out seven batters to start a game since right-hander Joe Cowley did it for the Sox back in 1986. Had Schafer whiffed on a couple more fastballs, Rodon would have tied Mets’ starter Jacob deGrom for most strikeouts to start a game in major league history.
Not only did Rodon manage to quell the first seven batters in Minnesota’s lineup, but he extended his strikeout streak to 10 consecutive batters dating back through his last start against the Cleveland Indians. Per MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger, the last major league pitcher to do so was reliever Eric Gagne, who accomplished the feat for the 2003 Dodgers during his first and only Cy Young Award-winning season.
Any way you slice it, this is an impressive look: