Detroit, MI (Sports Network) – Nick Swisher delivered the go-ahead RBI single in a two-run ninth inning, lifting the New York Yankees to a 5-3 victory over Detroit in the opener of a four-game series.
Mark Teixeira scored his second run of the game on Swisher’s single up the middle off Jose Valverde, and Alex Rodriguez came home on a passed ball two batters later for the final score.
Bartolo Colon, trying for his third straight win, threw together another good start for the Yankees, giving up three runs on seven hits and striking out seven in seven innings.
“Very good again,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Colon, who is starting games for the first time since 2009. “You take three guys out of [their] lineup and he was great.”
Joba Chamberlain (2-0) pitched around a single in the eighth to earn the win, and Mariano Rivera worked a perfect ninth for his league-leading 11th save.
Valverde (2-1) took the loss, unable to preserve a 2-2 tie. It was Detroit’s seventh loss in a row.
Detroit actually caught a break in the ninth when ex-Tiger Curtis Granderson walked, then was caught stealing after he rolled past the bag on a throw that was too high to get him initially.
But Teixeira walked and Rodriguez reached on a chopper that ate up third baseman Brandon Inge. Swisher grounded a 2-2 pitch up the middle and Teixeira beat centerfielder Austin Jackson’s throw, sliding his left hand under the tag for the go-ahead run. Rodriguez scored with two outs when catcher Alex Avila let a pitch go off the top of his glove.
Swisher said the Yankees were inspired by the news that Osama bin Laden had been killed in a U.S. raid in Pakistan.
“With all the things that are going on, and all the things that yesterday meant to the city of New York and all Americans, it was just such a great day,” he said.
Until the ninth, Avila was the hero for Detroit, belting two opposite-field solo homers off Colon. The second tied the game at 2-2 in the seventh inning.
“You’re going to be in tight games all the time, that’s the big leagues,” said Avila. “That’s the way it is. We just have to find ways to win the game.”
The Yankees were without second baseman and leading hitter Robinson Cano, who missed the game with a bone bruise in his left hand. But they still banged out 11 hits for their third straight win.
They sent seven batters to the plate against starter Justin Verlander in the first inning and took a 2-0 lead with two outs. Jorge Posada’s drive bounced over the center field wall for a two-run ground-rule double.
The Yankees tacked on a run in the second inning after Brett Gardner led off with a single and scored on Eduardo Nunez’s double to the left field wall. Verlander cut off the throw home and went to third with it, getting Nunez.
Avila knocked Colon’s 1-1 pitch over the wall in left-center with two outs in the bottom of the second for Detroit’s first run.
The Tigers pulled within 3-2 after Ramon Santiago doubled with one out in the third and scored on Miguel Cabrera’s two-out single to right.
Avila went the other way again in the seventh, popping Colon’s 2-2 offering into the same part of the bullpen where the first one landed, tying the game.
Against Al Alburquerque in the eighth, Russell Martin walked to leadoff, went to second on Gardener’s bunt and moved to third on a wild pitch. But the reliever got Nunez and Derek Jeter on ground outs to end the inning.
In the ninth, Granderson was safe by a mile under a high throw from Avila, but he rolled past bag and couldn’t scramble back in time before shortstop Jhonny Peralta applied the tag.
Verlander gave up three runs, eight hits and four walks in six innings while striking out eight…Granderson played for the Tigers from 2004-09, but missed a chance to play in Detroit last season because of injury…The Yankees took two of three against the Tigers to open the season…New York will play every day this week on the road, finishing with a three-game series at Texas.