Successful homestand ends on a down note

On the face of it, a 5-2 homestand is a good thing. Except that it does not seem like such a good think considering the Yanks’ record was once 5-0.

After a four-game sweep of the Angels, the Yankees won the opener of a three-game series against the Tigers on a shutout, but they dropped the next two games and scored only one run in each. Sunday in front of an Old Timer’s Day crowd of 47,474 at Yankee Stadium they ran into a hot, young pitcher in Michael Fulmer, who improved his record to 7-1 while shutting out the Yankees on two hits through six innings.

Fulmer was one of the players the Tigers got from the Mets last year in the trade for Yoenis Cespdes. The pitching-rich Mets knew they had to give up some talent to get a player of Cespedes’ quality and losing Fulmer was one of the prices they paid for getting to the World Series.

Suzyn Waldman told me a nice story about Fulmer. He is an Oklahoma native and was excited about being here on Old Timer’s Day weekend so he could meet Kay Murcer, the widow of Bobby Murcer, a fellow Okie.

Michael Pineda battled Fulmer for six innings and got a pain in the butt along the way on a single off his rump by Victory Martinez in the fourth inning when Detroit scored its first run on a sacrifice fly by Nick Castellanos. Hey, it could have been worse. The Tigers loaded the bases with none out and came away with merely one run. Pineda finished the inning with a flourish in retiring Jarrod Saltalamacchia on a line drive to shortstop Didi Gregorius and a strikeout of Mike Aviles.

The Tigers struck early again in the sixth inning with a walk and a single putting runners on first and third with none out. Victor Martinez got a run home with an infield out, but Pineda held the damage to that by striking out J.D. Martinez.

It was a mostly positive outing from Pineda, who nevertheless took the loss as his record fell to 3-7. Ian Kinsler, who drove in five runs in the Tigers’ 6-1 victory Saturday, belted his second home run of the series, a two-run shot, in the seventh off Anthony Swarzack to give Detroit a comfort zone.

The Yankees wasted leadoff doubles in the third and fifth innings and mounted a threat in the seventh when they had the bases loaded with two out against lefthanders Justin Wilson, their teammate last year. Gregorius hit the ball on the screws, but Detroit center fielder Cameron Maybin put it away. Gregorius has hit left-handed pitching well all season (.370 in 54 at-bats), so manager Joe Girardi was justified in letting him hit there rather than going to his bench for a pinch hitter.

The loss pushed the Yankees back under .500 (31-32), and they will get a needed day off Monday before going on the road to Denver and Minneapolis. Sunday finished a 41-day stretch in which the Yanks played 40 games. The Yankees were 23-17 over that period.

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