NEW YORK—The Detroit Tigers nearly stranded leadoff hitter Willi Castro at second base in the eighth inning.
After Castro’s double to right field, the next two batters were retired, but the highest-paid players on the roster — Miguel Cabrera and Javier Báez — stepped up with back-to-back RBI singles. Those runs gave the Tigers a lead for the second time in Sunday’s series finale against the New York Yankees.
But the Yankees, also known as the best team in baseball, clawed their way back. The Tigers’ efforts were spoiled in a 5-4 loss, as the Yankees swept the three game series in the Bronx in walk-off fashion.
The Tigers (21-33) also lost 13-0 Friday and 3-0 Saturday. Third baseman Jeimer Candelario left Sunday’s loss in the bottom of the second inning with a left shoulder injury.
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Facing left-handed closer Gregory Soto for the second straight inning, the Yankees earned their 39th victory in 54 games this season with a walk-off sacrifice fly from Josh Donaldson — scoring free extra-innings runner Aaron Judge — in the bottom of the 10th inning.
The Tigers failed to score off righty Michael King in the top half of the frame. Derek Hill (strikeout), Willi Castro (strikeout) and Spencer Torkelson (strikeout) stranded Eric Haase at second base.
Neither team scored in the ninth.
In the eighth, the Yankees tied the game, thanks to a pair of Tigers miscues.
Right-hander Michael Fulmer hits Anthony Rizzo with a two-strike curveball to start the bottom of the eighth. Rizzo stole second base and advanced to third base on a fielding error by Jonathan Schoop. He came around to score on a fielder’s choice, a play in which Harold Castro was charged with a throwing error.
The Tigers had a 4-3 lead, thanks to the RBI singles from Cabrera and Báez, in the top of the eighth. Cabrera finished 3-for-3 with one walk and one RBI; Baez went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and one strikeout.
Right-hander Rony García, making his third start for the Tigers, completed five innings. He allowed two runs on four hits and one walk with four strikeouts, throwing 46 of 71 pitches for strikes.
García and the Tigers briefly appeared to execute an inning-ending double play in the fifth, courtesy of García’s strikeout and catcher Eric Haase’s strong throw to cut down a runner attempting to steal second base. But, replay review overturned the caught-stealing call on the field.
The next batter, slugger Joey Gallo, crushed a two-out, two-run home run to tie the game. He smashed García’s 3-1 sinker over the wall in left-center field.
Yankees starter Jordan Montgomery countered with 6⅓ innings of two-run ball on five hits and one walk with five strikeouts. Right-handed reliever Clarke Schmidt replaced him with one out in the seventh.
Yankees battle back
In the seventh inning, the Yankees grabbed a one-run advantage.
Right-handed reliever Alex Lange, in his second inning of work, walked DJ LeMahieu on four pitches with two outs and the bases loaded. LeMahieu simply watched as Lange missed the strike zone with three sinkers and one curveball.
The messy situation began with Gleyber Torres hitting Lange’s first-pitch curveball for a leadoff single. Aaron Hicks flied out to center field, and Isiah Kiner-Falefa singled on a grounder to shortstop Javier Baez.
Baez attempted to turn an inning-ending double play.
But the former Gold Glove winner didn’t realize Torres had dashed for second on the pitch, meaning he was already on base when Báez looked to touch the bag with his foot in hopes of starting a double play. By that point, he didn’t have enough time to throw out Kiner-Falefa at first base.
There were two runners on with one out for pinch-hitter Matt Carpenter, a left-handed hitter. He drew a five-pitch walk to load the bases. Joey Gallo, a lefty who entered the game hitting .191 against righties, struck out on three sinkers for the second out.
That’s when Lange walked LeMahieu on four pitches, giving the Yanks a 3-2 lead.
To avoid further damage, Fulmer replaced Lange to face Aaron Judge. He struck out Judge on three pitches to strand the bases loaded.
Lange threw 31 pitches.
Snapping the drought
The Tigers scored two runs in the fourth inning, snapping a 21-inning scoreless streak.
To set up the first run, Cabrera worked a one-out walk. Báez, hitting .198 over 43 games, stepped to the plate amid a 0-for-11 slump, but he delivered by crushing a third-pitch changeup in the strike zone.
Báez’s hit traveled into the left-center gap for a double, and Cabrera was determined to score from first base. He chugged around third and slid into home, putting the Tigers ahead 1-0, as the throw home was cut off by the pitcher.
For the second run in the fourth, Daz Cameron scored Báez from third base with a two-out single into center field. The ball deflected off the glove of Torres, the Yankees’ second baseman.
Haase struck out swinging to end the fourth. He also struck out looking in the second inning, stranding two runners in scoring position, though he drew a walk in the seventh.
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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Tigers finally find runs, still swept by Yankees, 5-4