DETROIT — The Yankees hammered the homers, but bombed out Tuesday night. Despite hitting six home runs, the Yankees fell to the worst team in baseball. Jordy Mercer’s second hit of the game gave the Tigers a 12-11 walkoff win over the Bombers at Comerica Park.
The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Yankees (95-51) and could end up being costly in their race to to finish with the best record in baseball and the postseason home field advantage that goes with it. The Tigers (43-100) have managed just 43 wins this season.
In the bottom of the ninth, Chance Adams gave up a fly ball to the left corner to Grayson Greiner. Clint Frazier bobbled the play, giving the Tigers’ catcher a one-out double. Mercer’s long fly ball to right gave the Tigers the winning run.
While the Yankees may have slipped in the race for the best record in baseball, they gained ground in the race for the single-season home run record.
After watching last week as the Twins “Bomba Squad” broke the 2018 Yankees’ single-season record, the 2019 team home run derby is now tied. The Yankees and Twins each have 276. Since August 1, the Yankees have out-homered the Twins 96 to 67.
Tuesday night, the Yankees got two home runs from Didi Gregorius, his 14th and 15th of the year. His seventh-inning shot was No. 276 on the year
They also got two homers from Brett Gardner. The veteran outfielder hit his career-high 22nd homer of the season in the first inning. It was the 36-year-old outfielder’s first-ever home run at Comerica Park. He hit his second in his next at-bat. It was Gardner’s first multi-home run game of 2019 and the eighth of his career.
The Yankees also got solo shots from Gleyber Torres, the team-leading 36th of his season, and Edwin Encarnacion, his 33rd of the year.
The Yankees have hammered 10 homers in their last three games and 19 in the last week. They have hit home runs in 20 of their last 22 and hit more than one in 10 of their last 14.
On any other night, the five home runs and the 11 runs would be more than enough for the Yankees, but Tuesday was a bullpen day.
The opener did not go as smoothly as it usually does for the Yankees, with Nestor Cortes, Jr. starting instead of Chad Green. Cortes gave up four earned runs in 2.1 innings work. Luis Cessa allowed three runs (one earned) in 2.2 innings, while Cory Gearrin allowed two (against just one out) and Jonathan Loaisiga was charged with one. Adam Ottavino gave up an unearned run as well.
Tuesday was all about balancing the Yankees’ push for the best record in baseball with the need to give their regulars rest. Aaron Judge, DJ LeMahieu, Luke Voit, and Cameron Maybin all sat, with Voit and Maybin eventually coming in off the bench.
“Obviously coming off a tough four-game series, where we got in after 3 a.m., it’s kind of one those I had earmarked for Judge. Felt like it was probably the right day with LeMahieu too,” Boone said. “With Voit playing all four there, managing his workload ... Felt like this was the right day. They have a lefty going tomorrow, so I’ll have Gardy down probably tomorrow, so just trying to be strategic with keeping our guys sharp, and also trying to keep mindful of keeping them fresh as well.”
The Yankees came into this series with the Tigers — who are vying for the worst record in baseball — with 42 wins on the road. The Tigers had 42 wins total before tonight.
Still, Boone was not worried that there would be a dropoff after the high of the four-game series in Boston.
“No matter who we’ve played this year, I feel like those guys have done a great job. There have been very few games where I felt like we just didn’t put our best foot forward or were a little flat,” Boone said. “You’re going to lose games, you’re going to not play well on particular days. Very rarely has it been a result of guys not hyper-focused on what they’re doing in the ballgame, and I expect that to continue.”