McCarthy stays on a roll

Brandon McCarthy continued his effectiveness in his brief time with the Yankees with 5 2/3 solid innings Monday night in a 2-1 victory over the Tigers. Paired against last year’s American League Cy Young Award winner, Max Scherzer, McCarthy out-dueled him into the sixth inning.

The only run off McCarthy was not earned because of a throwing error by third baseman Marty Prado in the fifth inning that put Tigers shortstop Eugenio Suarez on first base. After stealing second base, Suarez scored on a single by Ian Kinsler.

Otherwise, McCarthy was brilliant. He worked out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the second inning with strikeouts of Alex Avila and Suarez and finished with eight strikeouts overall. The righthander allowed five hits and two walks and lowered his ERA with the Yankees to 2.08 to go with a 4-0 record. What an improvement over the 5.01 ERA he had with the Diamondbacks to go with a 3-10 record.

Returning the cut fastball to his arsenal has rejuvenated McCarthy, that and an improved Yankees infield defense. Ground-ball pitchers love it when the infielders are reliable, even at unfamiliar positions, which Chase Headley at first base after Mark Teixeira was a late scratch due to light-headedness.

“I told Headley I might use him at first base when Tex needed a day off,” manager Joe Girardi said. “I didn’t think I’d be telling him that at 6:15, however.”

Girardi has been overjoyed about McCarthy. “He has been huge for the rotation,” the skipper said. “Every start for us has beenb good. He used his curveball really well tonight, more than he has since he has been here. He got a lot of outs with that pitch.”

For his part, Scherzer relied on his defense as well, particularly center fielder Ezequiel Carrera, who is getting a shot following the departure of Austin Jackson to Seattle in the three-team trade that brought David Price to Detroit from Tampa Bay. The Yankees will get Price on their menu Tuesday night.

Carrera’s diving, belly-flop catch in the third inning on the warning track of a drive by Jacoby Ellsbury became a long sacrifice fly instead of a game-breaking, extra-base hit. Brian McCann singled in the second run of that inning.

“That was an unbelievable play,” Girardi said of Carrera. “It kept this a really, really close game. Our guys put good at-bats against Scherzer.”

Poor base running by Prado cost the Yankees a run in the fourth. Brett Gardner got in a rundown between first and second so that Prada could try to score from third base, but he did not move and Gardy was tagged out to end the threat. Scherzer pitched through the seventh but left with the Tigers trailing by a run. Detroit would never find that run, thanks to efficient relief by Matt Thornton, Adam Warren, Shawn Kelley and David Robertson (30th save).

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