With CC off his game, so are Yanks
Ace struggles as New York drops four-game set to Detroit
DETROIT -- It's always been CC Sabathia's way to shrug off a solo home run, reasoning that the long ball will inevitably come by challenging hitters, and that one run shouldn't be enough to ruin an entire afternoon.
There were a few problems with that logic on Thursday. Sabathia served up back-to-back home runs to Miguel Cabrera and Brennan Boesch in the fourth, and with the Yankees' bats quiet, one run would have been enough to win anyway. The Tigers got six off Sabathia, handing him a 6-0 loss at Comerica Park.
"It's definitely tough, but we're in one of those stretches where we've just got to grind it out," Sabathia said. "That's going to happen. You're going to have some ups and downs during the year. It's our job to try and keep us in the games."
On a gloomy afternoon that had the Yankees poring over radar reports in wait of torrential thunderstorms that never appeared, their hitters couldn't get much of a read on right-hander Justin Verlander, who limited New York to four hits over 6 2/3 innings.
"He's always good," said Yankees captain Derek Jeter. "He's not a guy that you really look forward to facing when a team is hot offensively, let alone when we really haven't been swinging the bats too well.
"That's the reason why he's one of the best pitchers in the league. He knows what he's doing, he throws hard, he mixes in his offspeed pitches and he's tough any time you face him."
No Yankees player even got past second base in the contest, which made third-base coach Rob Thomson the loneliest man in the park and saw New York shut out for the second time in the Detroit series, falling to 3-4 to conclude its seven-game road trip.
After belting Boston pitching for 27 runs at Fenway Park last weekend, New York managed just 12 runs in the four-game series, six of which came in the ninth inning of Wednesday's runaway nightcap of a doubleheader split.
"We went up into Boston and put up a lot of runs against some good pitchers there, but they probably weren't on their games," said Mark Teixeira, who went 0-for-3 with a walk. "When you go into a series and pitchers are on their games, all the time, good pitching is going to beat good hitting."
The Yankees had not been shut out twice in a season by the same team since 2007, when the Orioles did it on June 27 and Aug. 14. It was also the first time since a May 1999 series against the Angels that the Yanks were shut out twice during a set.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he had arrived at Comerica Park expecting a tight game -- if, in fact, there was to be one.
"You know, that the way Verlander is capable of pitching, you can't give up too many," Girardi said. "Our team has the ability to come back. We just didn't swing the bats very well in Detroit."
Sabathia, the other half of the day's ace-caliber matchup, allowed a quick run in the second inning, as Boesch -- a relative unknown whom Teixeira called a "very impressive" young hitter -- doubled and scored on Gerald Laird's two-out single.
Cabrera and Boesch then belted their back-to-back blasts off Sabathia, dispatching the balls over the right-field wall.
Cabrera went the opposite way on a two-seamer that skidded down the middle, and Boesch teed off on a hanging breaking ball that put the Tigers up, 3-0.
"I felt pretty good, actually," Sabathia said. "I just hung a couple of balls, but when my pitches were right, they were swinging early in the count and getting ground balls. It's just one of those days today where I kind of lost it."
Sabathia also allowed two third-inning homers in his previous start against the Red Sox on Saturday, those off the bats of Darnell McDonald and Victor Martinez. The difference was that the Yankees scored 14 off Boston pitching that day, more than enough to cover those mistakes.
"That's pretty much what it's been -- the third inning," Sabathia said. "I've got to try to make better pitches."
Detroit broke it open in the sixth, when Cabrera belted a long two-run double to deep center. Laird added a run-scoring double off Sabathia later in that inning, as the ace finished allowing nine hits, no walks and striking out four in a 79-pitch effort.
"Against a guy like him, you've got to be ready to swing," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said, "because if you don't, he just chews you up. We made some quick outs, but we got a couple big hits and we hit some that scored runs. That's the big thing."
Jeter snapped an 0-for-16 skid in the first inning with a soft single, but he endured a scare when he was hit on the left pinky in the fifth with a Verlander fastball, remaining in the game and later saying he was "all right."
Right-hander Ivan Nova made his Major League debut with two innings of scoreless relief, finishing out the Yankees' second series loss of the season and first since April 23-25 against the Angels in Anaheim.
"It's tough to blame our pitching staff," Jeter said. "We collectively haven't swung the bats too well as of late. We'll go home and hopefully swing a little bit better."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.