However, the task does not get any easier as the Yankees head to Comerica Park, where they went 1-3 in 2011 and lost six of their last eight games over the past two seasons.
Yet the Yankees get a measure of comfort as their ace, CC Sabathia, takes the mound in the opener. The left-hander returns to the bump after earning the victory in a seven-inning, two-run effort in Oakland on Saturday. Overall, Sabathia recorded a quality start in five of his last six outings dating to his win against Detroit on April 29. That day, Sabathia tossed eight innings and allowed two runs on four hits with eight strikeouts.
While Sabathia has paced the lineup behind him, further struggles with runners in scoring position have continued to bog down the Yankees' run production. It is a problem that could prove costly against a potent Tigers lineup.
"I just think it's something we're going through. These guys have been through it enough that I don't think they're going to press," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "That doesn't mean they don't get frustrated, but I think every time that they go up there, they believe they're going to do some damage."
The Yankees are hitting just .152 (21-for-138) with runners in scoring position since May 13.
New York will try to reverse that trend against Casey Crosby, who will make his Major League debut. Crosby, the Tigers' fifth-ranked prospect, takes the place of Doug Fister, who was placed on the disabled list Wednesday with the same left side strain that kept him out of action for a month earlier this season.
The debut will mark the end of an interesting journey to the big leagues for Crosby, who once committed to the University of Illinois to play wide receiver. He opted instead to sign with the Tigers, who took him in the fifth round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, but had two injury-shortened seasons and Tommy John surgery before a solid Spring Training made him a candidate for the rotation.
The 23-year-old is 4-2 with a 4.26 ERA in nine starts with Triple-A Toledo. Opponents hit just .191 against him in May, and he has not lost since April 15, going 4-0 in his past seven starts. He struck out 10 batters over seven innings of three-run ball his last time out.
Yankees: Granderson remains a presence
Curtis Granderson, who hit his team-leading 16th homer of the season Wednesday, has been the Yankees' most consistent slugger this season. But the center fielder's presence goes beyond his bat. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Granderson has played in all 442 1/3 innings this season. That would make him one of just six players across the Majors to appear in the field for every team inning.
He finished May hitting .257 (28-for-109) with eight home runs and 13 RBIs. He hit eight homers and drove in 16 runs in April.
Since a temporary move to the seventh spot in the lineup on May 21, Mark Teixeira is hitting .394 (13-for-33) with eight runs, four doubles, four homers and 10 RBIs in nine games.
Tigers: Prince picking up his production
Prince Fielder ended May on his best roll of the season. In 17 games dating back to May 14, Fielder is hitting .426 (29-for-68) with three home runs, 17 RBIs, eight doubles and his first triple Thursday against the Red Sox. His batting average increased from .278 to .321 in that span. He is also riding an eight-game hitting streak during which he has recorded five multihit games.
Rick Porcello, one of three Tigers in addition to Crosby drafted in 2007 who have pitched in the big leagues, will move back a day in the rotation and start Saturday opposite Hiroki Kuroda.
Friday's series opener in Detroit marks the end of a stretch of 24 games in which 19 of the Tigers' games were played on the road.
The Yankees lost the first two games of a three-game road series for the second time this season while in Anaheim.